what’s the worst case of helicopter parenting you’ve seen at work?

In response to last week’s post about the father who got on the phone with questions during his daughter’s job offer, some readers asked to hear more about parents trying to interfere with their adult children’s careers. So, what’s the worst case of helicopter parenting you’ve seen at work? Share in the comments …

{ 1,603 comments… read them below }

  1. Lady Olenna Tyrell (RIP)*

    I work at one of those high schools where someone has to die for a position to open, and we had a guy apply over a hundred times (not kidding!) for an instructional position. He applied several times in one day by fax (this shows you how long ago this was.). A nicely dressed older man came into the main office after months of “no thanks” with a printed resume and out of nowhere began yelling at the principal about NOT GIVING HIS SON A CHANCE and it didn’t take long to realize that he was referring to Mr. Multiple Applications. Later he apparently went to the school board to demand why his son wasn’t hired. They declined to follow up with him and told him that his 30+year old son needed to handle it himself.

    1. Jennifer*

      I bet dad was the one applying for him. The son may not have even known about it lol.

      1. Flyleaf*

        Some parents can get desperate when their kid won’t move out of the basement until they have found the perfect job, so they take matters into their own hands. Sometimes this means badgering a potential employer until the kid has an offer in hand.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          And some are just interfering busybodies… we’ve definitely seen AAM letters from folks whose parents did what Jennifer is guessing.

      2. AMT*

        “Jesus, Dad, I’m a fully employed electrician and I live three states away!”

        “Nonsense! Wouldn’t you love to be back in Omaha with us? We could set you up in the attic!”

  2. animaniactoo*

    I have nothing to offer but this popcorn to share while reading… iced tea over there on the table, help yourselves.

    1. Nicelutherangirl*

      Would anyone care for a pizza roll? They’re fresh out of the oven, not the microwave!

        1. Contracts Killer*

          If you haven’t had them yet, the buffalo chicken snackers from Michelina’s are life changing and they are perfectly crispy after 88 second in the microwave (yes, I’ve eaten them enough to master the timing). Bonus if you dip them in blue cheese dressing. Crap, now I’m hungry.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Oh good, I was hoping someone brought popcorn.

      Please help yourself to my fully stocked fridge – it has imported German Beer, Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, bottled water, Orange Juice, Grape Juice, Ginger Ale, Diet Ginger Ale, Fanta, and champagne, 2% milk, Starbucks Iced Coffee

      (Actually this really is what is in my fridge. And this is why there is no room for anything else. I like having beverage options for when guests come over?)

      1. MeganK*

        I am weirdly relieved not to be the only person out there with a beverages…issue, maybe, let’s call it? My spouse gives me enough side-eye about it that I try to restrain myself, but I just…really like juice. And coffee. And beer. And iced tea. I like to have choices, ok?!?!

        But yeah, finding room for all the things in the fridge is definitely a problem.

        1. SophieChotek*

          Yup, you are not alone. =)

          Yeah I need an extra mini-fridge…and an extra-mini-freezer. Honestly, I should have a whole 2nd one…but no room.

          Had no idea this comment would inspire others, LOL…

          BTW – I have a coffee maker, a French press, and a tea kettle if we need hot beverages….

        2. All the tea*

          I too am very happy to see that there are others who have many beverage options (especially for guests) who aren’t related to me.
          Do you want tea? I have 20+ kinds of loose leaf? Coffee, I can make you that. Water of course, maybe even sparkling (and possibly flavoured sparkling). Is it summer, then of course I have iced tea. Oh and juice, there’s juice too.
          Do you need white or brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup for your tea/coffee? Soy or rice milk?

      2. CoffeeforLife*

        So happy to have a second fridge dedicated to just beverages! Yes, it’s an energy vampire, but it keeps my beer, rosé, cider, red bull, kombucha, juice, vodka, etc cold and ready!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I don’t let people put beverages in my main kitchen fridge, except the communal milk. “But we like cold soda!” THAT’S WHY THERE’S A MINIFRIDGE IN THE BASEMENT AND A FULL SIZED FRIDGE IN THE GARAGE, YOU HEATHENS.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            AAAH I am not the only one with a fullsized extra fridge. My husband’s request for a “beer fridge” morphed from bar sized to 3/4 size when he saw them… and so it’s been taken over by food. We can buy BULKY food in bulk now LOL.

          2. Perse's Mom*

            This brings back memories of my great-grandma’s house and I never even thought about it before now – the kitchen fridge was basically for cooking (because there must always be enough food to feed a medium-sized army of relatives who might descend upon the house at any given moment), so the only ‘drink’ in there was milk. All the other beverages were indeed in the full sized fridge in the garage!

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Exactly! My kitchen fridge is for the food I buy. The garage fridge is 80% exclusively used by the housemates for whatever extra they bring in – I do all the cooking, their rent includes a food allotment, but it doesn’t include beverages and everything I buy is communal, so if someone wants their own ice cream they buy it, etc – though I do take most of it over the week before Thanksgiving to hold the goodies for my Feast, and the week after to hold the leftovers. Then all the booze that requires refrigeration goes in the mini-fridge downstairs.

          3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Ha, I had not realised how much this was a thing in my family until just now. I just came back from a trip home and everyone has an old fridge in the garage with soda, beer, extra vegetables, etc in it. My grandma has two, one in the garage and the one that was my grandfather’s homemade kegerator in the shop. Here in the UK I barely have room for one tiny fridge!

        2. Flash Bristow*

          Same here – diet coke, 7up free, cherry 7up free, real ales, wine. Hooray!

          And then sometimes my husband adds diet irn-bru. Oh well.

        3. TardyTardis*

          We have a second fridge out in the shop, but that’s where the extra-sharp cheese (properly dated) goes to live for a couple of years till it gets *good*. Also, all the extra leftovers at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Currently hold the aforementioned cheese, various fancy beers we have pretty much forgotten about, and pickles.

      3. Pebbles*

        Everyone is welcome to my wine fridge, my hard cider fridge, or a mixed beverage with what I have in my bar. If you want water, we have filtered stuff in the fridge and bottles in the pantry. Lemonade is also in the fridge.

        1. Pebbles*

          The lemonade and the filtered water are in the kitchen fridge.

          (My cube-shaped kingdom for an edit button…)

          1. Pebbles*

            I sure do! I shop at Total Wine and love to try the different ciders. My regular ciders are Smith & Forge and Strongbow, but currently there’s also Magner’s, Seattle’s Oaked Maple, Maiden Rock’s Scrumpy, Ace Pineapple, and Uncle John’s Apple.

            (And this reminds me to pick up some more for the weekend.)

            1. Pippa*

              *adds Pebbles to Christmas card list*

              Samuel Smith’s organic cider is quite nice, too, but I don’t know if Total Wine carries it.

            2. Rivakonneva*

              Total Wine! I love that store, but we don’t have one where I live. I have to drive to the next state to visit theirs. :(

              Their craft beer section is so much better than anything we have locally.

      4. Lurk Til I Can’t Help Myself*

        Yes! I have two kinds of wine, Pepsi, ginger ale, some wonky cola my bff loves, milk, original Gatorade, a couple of white cherry Gatorades (blasphemy!) grape Propel fitness water, “unflava” water, and a couple of peach Smirnoff thingies someone left.

        But I always leave room for condiments.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I have a couple of cases of Three Buck Chuck (sales tax) and several bottles of the last of the Good Stuff. Italian reds, yum!

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          If anyone needs ‘the good ice’ for their beverages, my Opal is ready to go!

    3. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

      I’ve got some mango pinapple salsa, freshly made with onions and peppers from the garden. Does anyone have a bag of the good chips?

  3. Valprehension*

    Ohhhhh, I’m looking forward to the comments on this one.

    Last year one of my coworkers (mid-to-late 20s, in an established career path) was quite sick, for an extended period of time. She was away from work for about a week, tried to come back but clearly wasn’t up to it, and wound up calling in sick again after that. But for some reason, when she called in sick for the second stretch of time, *after* she had already made the call and spoken to our manager, her mother decided to take it upon herself to also call, speak to the manager and make it *very* clear that under no circumstances should Coworker be allowed to return to work yet.

    It was… something.

    1. Landshark*

      That certainly sounds like something. I’ve had to have my husband make a call in for me precisely once because my voice was completely shot (to the point where I couldn’t even whisper!) and, at the time, I didn’t work at a place that allowed emails to call out of work.

      But having someone else NOT being the one to make that call, but instead make a SECOND call? Hoo boy. I can only hope that this wasn’t at Coworker’s request and that she was as mortified as everyone else.

      1. Amber T*

        Oh jeez. Yeah it sounds like coworker was handling it well, and Mom decided it would be a good idea to make extra sure.

        1. Psyche*

          Or that Mom didn’t trust coworker not to go in and was trying to force coworker to stay home.

          1. Valprehension*

            This is what I figured was going on! I think her mom was angry she’d tried to come back before she was ready, and wanted to make sure we wouldn’t “let” her do that again XD

            Though to be fair, we had all talked her into going home early the day she tried to come in – we have generous paid sick leave and there’s no point in coming in when you’re really ill.

      2. Allornone*

        That happened to me setting up the interview for my very first job! My soon-to-be boss left a message to arrange a time, and I was sick with strep throat. Absolutely no voice at all. My older sister had to call on my behalf. Fortunately, soon-to-be-boss was an exceptionally kind, understanding motherly-figure (it was a work-placement job on campus in college, so she was used to hiring students; she turned out to be an absolute joy to work for, and her banana bread was amazing), and didn’t seem to mind. I was good by the time the interview came around.

        1. Pebbles*

          Similar, CurrentJob called at about 10AM to set up an in-person interview for an internship while I was still living with my parents. At the time I was working a night job stocking shelves at big box retailer and had gotten home around 7AM. So naturally when the hiring manager called and got my mom on the phone, she said that she’d have to see if I was awake. Didn’t mention anything about how I was working 3rd shift, no, now their first impression of me is that I might be lazy. Note: it’s okay to wake me up for this kind of call rather than asking them to leave a message!

        2. DollarStoreParty*

          My sister, at age 45, had complications from pancreatitis and ended up with ICU Delirium. We had to take her phone away from her. As her older sister (our parents are gone) it fell to me to deal with her boss, who would not accept that the extent of her illness was none of her business and she’d be back when she was well – rumors were flying that she was dying, or dead, which she was not. When she did finally return to the real world, and eventually work, her boss’ only comment was “Your sister is really protective of you.”

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              Holy crap, thst was a fascinating (and disturbing) read! I never heard of ICU delirium, but having spent 5 days in an ICU a few months ago after open heart surgery (I’m fine now, thanks), I can relate to these patients. The ICU is a very surreal environment; among other things, you lose touch with things like the passage of time, you have no sense of whether it’s night or day, etc. It’s quite disorienting, and I can easily imagine losing one’s grip on reality. I did okay, and yet I still remember a sense of unreality, almost like being in a sort of suspended animation. It doesn’t surprise me that some people have a bad reaction, especially those who are intubated, immobile, subjected to repeated procedures, etc. for extended periods of time. Yikes.

              1. Adminx2*

                Off topic, I’ve only been on serious pain and recovery meds once after appendicitis and I immediately realized I needed to set clear alarms for my different pill schedules. Within a single day I understood how easily people can mix up their meds and accidentally overdose since all I did was lay down, wake up, take meds and repeat.

            2. Harper the Other One*

              I have a friend who is an ICU nurse and she says they try to put conscious patients in a room with a window to help with this – apparently part of the problem is that your circadian rhythm gets out of whack when you have NO access to natural light. But she admitted that it’s a real challenge because so many of the contributing factors just can’t be fixed without compromising patient health.

            3. Flash Bristow*

              A friend of mine had several spells in ICU; she said everyone was offered counselling on leaving as it was so traumatic having been aware while there.

              Now I see why…

          1. CanadianDot*

            ICU delirium is terrifying! I was taking care of my brother in the hospital for a couple of weeks, leading up to and then following major surgery. Because of his condition and physical needs, he ended up in the Vascular Surgery aftercare ward the whole time – basically, other than him, if people stay in that ward for very long, it’s because they’re doing REALLY poorly. In that two weeks, we saw a number of people with delirium, who must have been so, so very frightened.

          2. many bells down*

            Ooooh that explains why my nurses were so concerned when I was coming out of anesthesia after heart surgery last December. I take a very long time to properly wake up from anesthesia, so I kept falling back asleep but I never stopped talking. Even when I was asleep. I’d just change subjects mid-sentence.

            So yeah I probably sounded pretty delusional. Once I was fully awake (which took probably until the next morning, after I got some real sleep) I was fine.

      3. Chocoholic*

        I had to have my husband call me in once as well. I was in labor and he was driving me to the hospital. That’s the only time.

      4. Glitsy Gus*

        My roommate had to call my boss for me once when I was in the hospital with appendicitis. He’s a good friend. Apparently he called the wrong person, my coworker on my team rather than my boss, and was basically, “You don’t know me, but you need to know that GG is in the hospital.” It all worked out, coworker passed along the info and I gave them the full story when I was actually able to string words into real sentences.

    2. Last Cookie LW*

      I had a coworker use her mom to call in. This was after coworker was out for multiple days in a row. After mommy called, coworker shows up on social media doing not-stuck-in-bed-incapacitated things that we know were in real time because it included an event that was only that day.

    3. What's with Today, today?*

      My husband called in for me once, but I had gone into labor 5 weeks early, so…

    4. The Blue Marble*

      I once had a parent call me offering to “act as the mediator between myself and her daughter” due to the performance issues I was having with the employee. She felt I was “being mean” to her daughter and said she knew she could help. I responded that it was “inappropriate for me to discuss any work issues with her.” (Her daughter was having performance issues and refused to accept guidance). And this was a 30-ish aged employee!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That one’s meme-worthy. I shall refrain but imagine the thwap-thwap-thwap of a helicopter here.

    5. Anonymeece*

      I had an employee who was in his late 70s – early 80s. He called me to let me know he had a medical emergency and would be in the hospital the next couple of days, but he’d be back after that. I could hear in the background his adult daughter going, “Dad, no, no, give me the phone, Dad!”. Then suddenly she broke on and said very politely, “Ms. Meece, I’m afraid dad’s going to be out longer than that.”

      To be fair, he actually needed more like a month to recover, so I understand where daughter was coming from, not wanting to endanger his health, and I stressed that his health was more important and it was completely okay to take all the time he needed.

      1. Fiddlesticks*

        Ha! This is the first comment I’ve read about “helicopter childing” (is that a word??), but in this case it seems like it was the appropriate thing for the daughter to do. My dad, who is now 76, had an extremely strong work ethic, and only called in sick ONCE in forty years, when he had to have surgery…and same thing, he told his boss he’d be back at work in a few days, and his surgeon basically said “If you don’t tell them you’re going to be out for at least two weeks, I’m going to call them and tell them myself!”

        But I never thought of calling up Dad’s boss myself…oh man, Dad would’ve killed me!! LOL

        1. Kimmybear*

          My sister could have written this. I think my mom called my dad’s boss when he was out for a few weeks after a major medical incident but my mom had known the boss for 30+ years.

        2. Chinookwind*

          Current boss’ wife did this. He had a brain aneurysm and fully expected to be back to full steam within a month. Uh…no. He ended up needing his wife to drive him for a few months and she and I (and a few other staff members) coordinated through her about getting him to take it easy and go home on time. She even had her own (previously empty) office where she could read a book when he was suppose to be there for only a few hours. And she would call in to tell us he wasn’t coming because he was still sleeping

          It was helicopter spousing at its finest and probably saved us all some frustration during his recovery.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            I’m stealing “helicopter spousing.” We’ve had a lot of letters like that… though most of them nowhere near as justified!

        3. Samwise*

          I had pneumonia, kept going in to work, got sicker and sicker. My doctor finally said, either you call your boss right now, or I’ll do it. Lol, she would have too.

      2. Anon for This*

        See, this is why I was the one to contact my Dad’s boss and tell her he was in the ICU. I also told her that he said to say might be able to work in a few days if someone brought his work laptop to the hospital… but that he was the only one who thought that was the case.

        For context, they’d worked together close to 20 years at that point. And I also worked on projects that involved them both, and some of his work tasks were deliverables for my department.

        And even then, I only passed along his laptop suggestion because I knew he’d follow up on it when she called to see how he was.

      3. Mel*

        This is my thinking of why the mom called in. I’m thinking she knew her daughter would likely try to come in before she’s really physically ready. Of course, the situation you listed is a little better, because your employee was on the line and it’s obvious that the daughter cut in to advocate for her father.

    6. Tisme*

      That’s bad.

      I admit to taking the phone off my younger brother and telling them he’d not be coming in.
      We shared a house. He got me because he had no focus to punch in his works number. I was hanging around in case he needed help getting back to his room or such. His boss knows he has a 30 odd mile drive to work, its a night shift and my brother is their normal ‘go to’ person for when other are sick etc. He told them how unwell he was. Its something he seems to get once a year and he’s been ‘sent home’ in the same state when he’d gone to work because he’d not realised how bad he was. His boss then started to cajole him into going in. Being unwell my brother’s will power was zilch, so he caved.
      At that point I took the phone, said that ‘Bro looks like death warmed up, he’s hardly functional so I won’t be letting him drive. He’ll call you tomorrow with an update on how he is.’ I hung up. My lil bro thanked me, then I helped him get back to his room.
      When he got back to work, his boss apologised, said she should know better, that if my bro was taking time off, he needed to be off.

      I’d do that sort of helicoptering again, because the drive to work could have seen him hurt or kill himself or someone else.

      1. Busy*

        Yeah, I did that for my sister when we were younger. Only with her, she was too afraid to call off work at Subway? So, I had pretended to be her and did it.

        We are in our mid-thirties now and I HOPE she still isn’t afraid to call off sick lol.

      2. Observer*

        That’s not really helicoptering. It’s good to remember that interference is USUALLY a bad idea, that ARE *absolutely* exceptions. You probably saved your brother’s life, from what you say. So, yeah, TOTALLY justified.

        Allison, could you do an open thread on the BEST cases of “helicoptering” people have seen?

        So much of what we are seeing cringe-worthy or worse. But stories like this are nice. It’s a good counterpoint.

      3. Frea*

        Yeah, I did this with my brother when he was sick to the point of nearly passing out and his work wouldn’t accept that he couldn’t make it in. Kind of amazed I didn’t get him fired by telling his boss that he was sick, finding coverage should be the manager’s job and not his because he sick with a doctor’s note to prove it, and to stop calling him. Instead, I earned a reputation around his company of being something of a hard*ss, which is amusing to me to this day, as I am very much conflict avoidant.

      4. Perse's Mom*

        My brother has called in for me twice – once when I was so sick I was barely coherent at Old Job (which then called me for hours because he didn’t know so he’d just called the main line and left a voicemail so the office didn’t know where I was… except checking those voicemails is something they were supposed to do as part of opening duties) – and once at Current Job after an accident over a weekend that had left me hospitalized with a concussion.

    7. Southern Yankee*

      I once had a boss at VP level who was shopping his 30+ married-with-kids-son for a job working for me. I declined with vigor because of the direct reporting relationship, but son was hired by another group with a dotted line to VP dad. A couple months later, I’m doubly glad I resisted when the boss of spoiled son tells me that son is sick, but son didn’t call in sick, VP dad did. Son & family didn’t live with dad, so he had to call dad to tell him he was sick – he could have just as easily called boss! I know VP dad who was otherwise a reasonable guy had no clue this was completely overstepping.

    8. Kimberly*

      Could it be that the Mom didn’t know if the daughter could call in and make herself understood?

      My sister called my boss to tell them I wouldn’t be in for a couple of days, after getting a phone call from me asking how I had gotten to the hospital and why I was admitted. I had gotten a face-full of dust from trash bags that had deodorizer “built” in. I remember taking a shower, taking some medicine and sitting down on my bed. Woke up on the cardiac ward of a hospital 17 miles away (across the street from my sister’s house). My sister called the school to make sure my classroom (I taught 4th grade at the time) was covered. She wasn’t sure I was coherent enough to call in. I had, but it had been flagged by the district level person. Sounded high or drunk. Sis explained that I have an extream loopy reaction to the medication they have to give me for an allergic reaction.

    9. Winry Rockbell*

      Not helicopter parenting, but —
      My brother, sister, and I are Irish triplets, each a year apart from the next, and for a year and a half we all worked different shifts and departments at a big-box store in a small town. I worked first shift, my brother worked second, and my sister had a weird shift that ended after second shift did but before third broke for dinner. Rather than mess with trying to call in and hope someone happened to be in the office, we all just texted each other and relayed our siblings’ call-outs to management. When our family had several deaths in rapid succession, I was the one who arranged and filed the paperwork for bereavement leave all three of us, since I was the first one in.

      1. Former Employee*

        How cool! While it might have been quite a few years of chaos for your mom when you guys were little ones, it sounds like a lot of fun for you, especially as older kids/adults.

  4. JokeyJules*

    in college, a girl in the dorm room next to me, her mother would come visit her every other day.
    At first i thought “wow, they’re super close!” then i realized her mom was coming every other day to clean her room, fill her car with gas, look over her daughters assignments before they were due to fix them and make sure they were perfect, etc. I became friendly with the girls roommate who confided in me that this girls mother would call her every morning to wake her up, remind her to eat, and call her around 10:30 every night to tell her to go to bed. every weekend the mom would drive over an hour to spend the day with her, brushing her hair and cleaning up after her. as if she were a toddler. This poor girl had almost no friends because they all had to be “vetted” by the mom and if the mom didn’t like them then they couldn’t be friends. It’s not even like the mom just really wanted a good friendship and relationship with the daughter, it really was that she felt her adult child couldn’t be left alone for more than 48 hours without the mom coming by.

    This girl had no disabilities or other issues that would make this a reasonable thing. Her mother had just been doing it for the last 20 years so why stop now.

          1. Busy*

            My freaking aunt is like this with my cousin. My cousin is a freaking Physician’s Assistant and her mother still does this.

            And why is my cousin a PA and not a doctor? Because her mother told her of course she is too dumb to be a doctor and tanked her confidence. So PA she is, and her mother STILL does this.

            I keep trying to pull her aside at family functions and tell her the importance of starting to create boundaries with her mother who is, on top of all of the controlling behavior, and not likely surprising at all, an emotional vampire.

            1. Punk Rock PA*

              *physician assistant. And currently, it is more difficult to get into than some med schools. The acceptance rate at my school was 3% when I went, now it’s under 1%. Med school was my back up plan.

              Sorry, but PAs get a bad rap because of things like this, but we’re actually medical providers in our own right.

              1. Thursday Next*

                PAs are great, for sure, but being told you’re too stupid to enter the profession of your choice is hurtful.

              2. Sarah*

                And a lot of med schools are more competitive than some PA schools. I don’t think that’s an indicator of one being better (or requiring more intelligence) than the other. Same with saying that med school was your backup plan– that doesn’t prove PA school is better in any way (maybe it was better for you, in your specific case, of course). I have seen, as of late, efforts to show that other healthcare fields are better than doctors (saw a poster from a nurse’s association to this effect, something saying they have a heart of a doctor but additionally all these other great qualities, implying that doctors don’t have those qualities). I think we need to stop comparing and realize that whether it is doctors, or nurses, or PAs, or physiotherapists, each has their own type of training/licensing and can be valuable parts of the healthcare team of a sick patient. They each have different, important roles, with some overlapping ones.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, the “vetting friends” thing is isolating her daughter – a textbook abuse and control tactic.

      1. Allison*

        Yeah, it reminds me of Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s mom Dee Dee. Not as bad, obviously, but still . . .

        1. Jennifer*

          Jinx! Just said the same thing. It’s more than just a mom that can’t let go of her kid. That’s wanting to keep her a kid forever.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Definitely. At best, this is a great way to destroy your child’s ability to cope in the world. At worst, it’s abuse.

    1. MaureenSmith*

      My sister had someone in her dorm like that. Over time, the rest of the floor encouraged and educated her on independent living. There was a small party the first time she did her own laundry.

        1. CDM*

          Actually, tangentally related.. my mother tells the story of chatting with a middle manager at Sikorsky at some function, and asking her what her team did at the manufacturing plant. Cue the look of, “what are you, stupid?” and the incredulous reply: “I… manage.”

          ummmkay then.

      1. M&Ms Fix lots of Problems*

        I actually had two college roommates who had no clue how to do laundry because mommy had always done it for them. One had actually made it all the way to 21 because she then conned prior roommates into doing her laundry along with theirs. I didn’t ever do her laundry – but did give her a choice, either I will teach you or you can take it to Jane in building 22 who charges by the pound to do others laundry.

        1. Nicelutherangirl*

          When my ex-husband’s cousin went off to college and got his own apartment, he had to call his mom to ask her how to use the toaster. No lie. I think it was a one-off, though, and he outgrew the average late teen and twenty-something male immaturity to become a really good guy, and a great husband and father.

          1. BeachMum*

            I’ll admit to two things I did when I first moved into my own apartment at 18:

            I called home to get help because the oven needed to be cleaned and I couldn’t find the self-clean button. After my mother stopped laughing, she explained that this is what Easy-Off was for.

            I also called home to ask how to fix our freezer, which was significantly smaller because of the ice accumulating inside of it. Again, after she stopped laughing, she explained how to defrost a freezer.

            I did, however, know how to do my own laundry, cook, and mostly clean.

            1. Winry Rockbell*

              When I was 18, I called my mother to ask how to buy pillows, because I had no idea what all the different words meant and the packaging for the pillow cases had no guidance. After she got done laughing at me, she told me what kind of pillows I like.
              When I was 22, I was buying rum to make a cake with and I had to call her to find out what a reasonable price/brand was for this purpose. She passed it off to my dad, who told me Malibu would be fine and then laughed at me for not asking any of my same-age friends. In my defense, the rum wasn’t for drinking and none of them know how to bake!

        2. Lurker*

          My s.o. earned money in college by (over)charging the rich kids to do their laundry because they had no idea how to do their own.

          1. DataGirl*

            When my dad was in the Navy (in the 60’s) he earned money by doing basic hemming and other minor sewing- no one else on the ship knew how. That was more of a gendered thing, but he still found it very amusing.

            1. Asenath*

              You’d think it was gendered, but I had a female roommate in university who couldn’t sew on a button or hem a pair of slacks or a skirt.

              1. Canonical23*

                It is gendered. Not every woman can sew, true, but on average more women than men can because of gendered socialization.

                I was the only woman on my college’s debate team for awhile and I started charging the men 5$ for suit repairs.

                1. SigneL*

                  Sadly, I am sewing-impaired. I suppose I could sew on a button, I just choose not to. In college, we had to sew our own choir skirts (!) and I put mine together at the very last second with staples and duct tape. True!

              2. mcr-red*

                Raises hand. I can’t sew a button or hem a pair of pants. My husband has to do that for me.

                1. Lurk Til I Can’t Help Myself*

                  I don’t have a husband, but I have a stapler and some duct tape. I kind of wish I was kidding, but I have a staple scratch on my calf to prove it.

              3. Kimmybear*

                My grandmother couldn’t either…her daughters did it for her until she passed away.

              4. SC*

                I’m 35, and I can’t sew a button or hem a pair of pants. I can do a lot of things, but sewing just doesn’t seem to work out for me. My mom tried to teach me. I’ve tried to teach myself. It just won’t click.

                1. Paloma Pigeon*

                  This is me too. I’m a great cook, terrible with a needle. My fingers just won’t work for some reason.

              5. Autumnheart*

                I can sew a button, but forget hemming. I can iron on a strip of Stitch Witchery if it came to it, but i’d have to go buy it first.

            2. DataGirl*

              It is true that a lot of women can’t sew- particularly these days. But I stand by the 1960’s being a time when it was more unusual for men to be able to sew than women.

              1. Helena*

                I’m amused by this anecdote, because it’s still the case that few Sailors (of either gender) know how to sew. A Sailor on ship who knows how can still set up a very nice side hustle. However, in the Marines (where uniform appearance is taken much more seriously) pretty much everyone learns how to sew early on.

            3. Gadget Hackwrench*

              I’ve somehow become the “button friend” in my social group. As in every time someone’s lost a button, the next time I go to their place or they come to mine there’s the clothing item and the button and puppy dog eyes and I put the button back on the garment. Actually that’s probably how I became the button friend. Because I keep doing it.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I hadn’t really done my own laundry until I moved out of the area for a summer during college, but it was more that my extended family had a lot of division-of-labor for chores and my grandmother did all of the family laundry (I remember sorted piles of different types of clothing going all the way down the hallway on laundry day as a kid). On the other hand, I could cook from scratch and was a better baker than my mother from my tween years, and pretty much handled that for the family. The downsides of this silo-based approach to domestic life became clear once I did not live in the same city as everyone else for a few weeks, but it didn’t seem odd at the time. (Mom did teach me to sew from a young age, even though she was definitely in charge of any and all family sewing needs growing up. I don’t think I ever was “in charge” of my own sewing/mending needs until I moved out, though, since that was one of her tasks in our weird-in-retrospect siloed domestic division of labor.)

            1. Becky*

              My mother was not fond of cooking. When I was like 7 she taught me how to make biscuits (like the shortening+self-rising flour+ water easiest recipe ever) and the rest of the time I lived at home biscuits were my responsibility.

              1. Becky*

                wow not water–buttermilk (in my house milk + lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes)

        3. Kitty*

          What is it with college students who can’t do laundry? It’s not even difficult! In fact it’s probably the easiest household chore!

          1. RainyDay*

            A friend’s mom never taught her – when she asked! – because she got overwhelmed giving the various rules and figured just doing it was easier than showing her how. She eventually figured it out for herself.

            1. TardyTardis*

              My daughter wrote up a set of rules in high school, posted it by our washer/dryer, and we kept it up long after she left for college (paper finally died, though)–for one thing, it was good guidance for our son when he was over on the weekend to do laundry/slave labor around our house (he’s pretty good at mowing the lawn, etc.).

          2. Mimi Me*

            YEP! My building has an app that lets you pay for your machines. The money comes from my bank account, but the app went on the phone of every person in my home. You live here, you do laundry. :) My favorite days are the ones where I come home to find freshly laundered clothes on the couch because my kids just thought they’d toss in a load. I also love days when I come home to find my kitchen / living / dining rooms “company ready” clean for no reason other than someone thought it would be a nice surprise.

            1. Human Sloth*

              My 15 yo son just completed is first year as a homeschooler. I’ve probably done 3 loads of laundry in the last 9 months. He is rocking it!

          3. DerJungerLudendorff*

            I believe if you want to do it really well, you need to take various clothing materials, colours and whatnot into account. That’s partly why every clothing item comes with a label with materials and washing information.

            I just chuck it all in the washing machine though. It helps that I don’t have anything delicate.

            1. No Longer Working*

              Showing my age, but there was a time when clothes did not have fabric content & washing instructions sewn into them. Instructions were on a tag like the price. So glad they changed that!

              1. SigneL*

                This may be OT, but I once tried to iron a shirt and burned a hole in it (iron was too hot).

                1. TardyTardis*

                  My mom taught me how to iron starting on handkerchiefs and dish towels, and I worked my way to all the ironing clothes, like Dad’s shirts. When I got married, we decided that if my husband’s and my shirts were hung up right away, I didn’t need to iron anything (and if you fold dishtowels and handkerchiefs right, they don’t either).

                2. Cherry Sours*

                  I tried ironing my Girl Scout badges on my sash. Ten points for effort, but the plastic backing on said (scorched) badges was to keep the threads intact, not aid in adherence.

            2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              My laundry philosophy is that I will run two kinds of loads: the ones that get washed in cold water on delicate and then hung up to dry on drying racks, and the ones that get washed in warm water and put in the dryer. All new clothing items are sorted in to one of these two load styles based on some combination of their tags and my opinions, and if it doesn’t work out then that piece of clothing just wasn’t meant to be in my wardrobe. (This is also something I consider when buying clothes.)

              Special occasion clothes I plan to wear once a year or so are exempt and can be fussed over more, but I am just not willing to keep track of more than two kinds of clothes for routine laundry.

              1. teclatrans*

                Same! And I try to minimize those delicates. It means there isn’t much to teach my kids beyond “watch put for this type of item; everything else just gets a simple warm-water wash.”

              2. TardyTardis*

                I have hangups (permanent press), whites, and colors, but mainly because I like to do the whites in hot water.

              3. Ren*

                Whereas my laundry room has bins labeled “Whiter Shade of Pale,” “Color My World,” “Lady in Red,” and “Forever in Blue Jeans.”

          4. Environmental Compliance*

            My husband called me his freshmen year of college to have me teach him over the phone how to do laundry, because his mom never 1) expected him to do laundry 2) showed him how to do laundry and 3) let him do his own laundry. He’s a very smart guy, cooks & cleans otherwise…but no one in the house was allowed to Laundry except his mom. *shrug*

            1. SAHM*

              That’s just nuts. I’ve been having my sons do laundry since they were old enough to stand on the stool and push the buttons on the machine (they climbed onto the machine to push the buttons too, lol). They still don’t fold laundry, that’s my goal this summer, teach them to FOLD the gosh darned stuff.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                My daughter does laundry occasionally — usually when she wants a particular garment for some special event — but getting her to put anybody else’s in at the same time to make a full load? THAT took a while. (What helped was when she realized she didn’t hate the way clothes smelled when dried outside on the line if *MOM* did them — she hated the smell of clothes with three times too much soap in the load!)

            2. De-Archivist*

              Ran into this all the time in my college years. My friends’ parents would call them in the morning to wake them up. Friends didn’t know how to do laundry. I had a friend who didn’t know how to make Kool-Aid out of the packet. Incredulous, another friend told him that there were instructions on the package. Friend wasn’t sure what kind up cup to put the sugar in – like a mug, a tumbler, etc.

              My friend group were baffled that I did my own laundry. Like who taught me? I told them I’d been doing laundry my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are learning to fold towels and match socks, and I know I was washing my dad’s work clothes by the time I was twelve. I used to joke, darkly, that I was fairly certain my parents had kids solely to do housework.

            3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              My mother in law is still a bit suspicious of my husband’s laundry skills, even though he has been successfully washing clothes for 20+ years. I suspect she also thinks I am some kind of heathen because I only iron under duress.

              1. TardyTardis*

                My dad was the one who did the laundry at our house (no room for washer dryer in our house, so it was down to the laundromat with the latest Analog magazine).

          5. Nanani*

            Some people grow with parents who never taught them.
            Some people, more likely to be seen in Pricey Colleges, grew up with household staff who did it for them.

            Difficulty hasn’t got anytging to do with anything.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              I suspect that many of the people living in my student accommodation when I was doing my PhD had this problem. They were all smart and motivated but obviously came from wealthy families in countries where it is quite inexpensive to hire domestic help so I think they were just clueless, not lazy.

              I had to explain to a group of them that the nasty smell in the communal kitchen was the gas burner being left on without being lit, not the trash can, and that if they lit a cigarette in a room full of gas they could cause an explosion. I also showed someone how to mop and what kind of soap to use in the washing machine. They were all happy to do it but came from backgrounds where nobody expected them to know these things.

          6. Glitsy Gus*

            In college I met a lot of folks who didn’t know how to do laundry. They could do pretty much everything else, but I guess a lot of families have a THING about laundry, only Mom handles it (or grandma or whoever). I met at least three people who were not even allowed in the laundry room, let alone to touch the machines.

            1. Aleta*

              It also could mean their family’s chores were highly specialized. My family had rotating duties at first, with three main areas (general cleanup/kitchen/laundry) but we were allowed to switch if both parties agreed. We quickly found out we all had one area we didn’t mind doing at all and one we absolutely hated, and worked it out to where we all permanently did one area. Mine was laundry. My siblings both knew *how* do to do laundry, but they hadn’t done it in 10+ years by the time they went to college (I’m the oldest).

            2. Loose Seal*

              My grandmother (who raised me) grew up in the Depression. Plus, we lived in deep poverty when I was young. She prized her washing machine because she hadn’t had one for most of her life. She wouldn’t let any of us kids touch it. I did fold and iron clothes and put them away and I knew how to sort laundry but I never did the full chore by myself until I went to college.

          7. booksnbooks*

            My 8 year old son berated me one day because his laundry wasn’t done. Guess who has been doing his own laundry for going on 5 years now?

          8. NotAnotherManager!*

            Using the machines aren’t difficult, but my spouse (who is great at figuring things out) was not aware that washing one’s brand new, red school sweatshirt with his whites wasn’t a good idea, particularly on hot. I think the problem was he had zero experience, though, “Well, this looks pretty straightforward!” and was more focused on the machine use than things like dye transfer, wash temperature, etc. that you just pick up by doing. Nowadays, he’d just look it up on the internet, but that wasn’t an option in 1990.

            My cousin’s mom also would not let her wash her own clothes out of some weird fear that she’d “destroy the washing machine”. My cousin is smart and doesn’t have a destructive streak, so I have no idea what my aunt was thinking. Right before she left for school, I had her over to my house to give her a Laundry Basics 101. She was also going to a school with a school color in the red family, and, knowing she was not a fan of pink, I figured I’d help her out.

          9. Curmudgeon in California*

            When I hit my early teens, I didn’t like how mom was doing the laundry (cold, no sort.) So she said “Fine. Do your own.” I did my own laundry for years until I became disabled and folding clothes because extremely difficult. Now I happily pay someone to do it, but am a very picky customer (I still wash my own underwear.)

          10. Doctor Schmoctor*

            I know. Chuck it in the machine, pour in some detergent, press “start”.
            Or am I missing something?

          11. Koala dreams*

            I’m always surprised by the opinion that laundry is easy. Laundry machines are quite different with different types of buttons and programs. Some are cold water only, some have lots of different temperatures. There are different places to put liquid soap and powder soap. If you use a laundry room, there are different rules depending on where you live. And the measurement spoons have the measurements in tiny, tiny numbers that are super hard to read. I still think that washing machines are great, because hand washing is the worst chore ever, but it does take a while to get used doing laundry in a new place.

            I still remember getting the clothes stuck in the laundry machine when I first moved out. When I finally managed to open the machine, I didn’t care that the clothes were still soapy, I was just happy to get my clothes back. (Nowadays I know a lot of machines make you wait at the end of the cycle before you can open them, and there is also sometimes a fast forward choice somewhere in the menu.)

          12. Em*

            I was an RA in college and will forever remember the poor freshman whose mother obviously gave him a crash course in laundry right before dropping him off. He knocked on my door about 2 weeks into term in tears holding a baseball shirt that had a white body and dark blue sleeves and asked, desperately, “is this a white or a color?!?!?!”

        4. Choux*

          I had to learn how to do laundry on my own because it was my mom’s favorite chore so she never wanted me to do it. I learned how to do PLENTY of other things (plant and weed a garden, dust, wash dishes, cook, take care of livestock, etc. etc.), but I basically had to learn how to do laundry on my own.

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            This is funny. My mom is like this about ironing. She finds it soothing. She’s also fantastic at it, but never taught me her secrets. I tried for years, but I have given up and bought a steamer.

        5. SophieChotek*

          Had one roommate who seriously had to be shown each year how to turn up the thermostat (push the little arrow up or down) and both my roommates (in grad school) needed help changing simple screw-in light bulbs. (First roommate told me she grew up with servants….)

          1. Yorick*

            My roommate didn’t understand how the thermostat worked (we had one with an arm that you slide from warm temperatures to cool temperatures), so she’d just turn it down all the way if she was hot or up all the way if she was cold.

            1. Anon for this*

              I was well into my 20s before I had ever seen a thermostat so I definitely did this until someone stopped me.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I knew someone who was frazzled trying to hang a bulletin board — she had tried to hammer a screw into the wall. She is totally brilliant but had always lived in apartment buildings where you *had to* call the super to do things like that. And the super worked while she was at school so she’d never even seen it done.

        6. Gumby*

          Yeah, we kind of made fun of the dude in my freshman dorm whose mother did his laundry when she came from out of state (!) to watch home games of the sports team he was on. When his sport wasn’t in season, his girlfriend did his laundry. Ugh. At the time we whispered “how can anyone be that incompetent” behind his back but now it seems really gross and sexist too.

        7. MsMaryMary*

          My mom insisted that before her children could be trusted to use a complicated machine like a car, they had to be very familiar with using simpler machines like a washer and dryer, dishwasher, stove and oven, lawnmower, etc.

          1. Iris Eyes*

            That is an excellent point. Your mother’s philosophy will live on in my parenting advice :)

          2. CoveredInBees*

            I like your mom’s approach and am filing that away for when my kids get older.

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            OH I AM STEALING THAT.
            (Mine’s not getting a phone until she can go without losing her watch & house keys for a month…)

            1. All Stitched Up*

              Oh jeez, I would never be allowed to get a phone under those rules! (Fortunately, while in general my ~two ADHD settings~ wrt my phone are “can’t put it down” and “forgot where I put it down” I’m generally good about not losing track of it when I’m out of the house.)

        8. CynicallySweet*

          I actually had a hard time figuring out the laundry at my college. I’d only ever used the one kind at my Mom’s and there were no instructions. I had no idea why it was so expensive – we had these ones that instead of telling you the laundry was done would just start beeping loudly and ask for more money, so I gave it to them. My poor Mom was absolutely flabbergasted at the amount of quarters I was going through until she visited.

          1. Mimi Me*

            The first time I did laundry in a pay machine it was one of those front loaders. I put in a regular load and started to put in quarters. A very nice woman was watching me, stopped me from starting the machine, and showed me that I could get a lot more clothing in that type of machine. “Honey make the machine earn your money!”

        9. The Original K.*

          Yeah, I taught a friend to do laundry in college because his mother had always done it (and every other household chore) for him. His mother actually offered to pick up his laundry (he’d grown up about an hour from where we were) but he said no, to his credit, and once I taught him to do laundry he did it himself. He also got a serious girlfriend pretty early in college and she was not the “take care of your man” type (IIRC she straight up told him “I have no intention of doing your laundry, so …”), so he learned to be self-sufficient pretty quickly.

        10. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

          My son doesn’t do as many chores around the house as he ought to, but he can do his own laundry. I told him flat out: “You are not going to be one of those kids in college who doesn’t know how to operate a washer and dryer.”

          1. Mimi Me*

            I make both kids (daughter and son) do chores for just about the same reason. “I’ll be damned if I’m coming to your apartment for a visit only to want to scrub myself clean after being there” is how I put it. LOL! My husband, bless him, was raised in a house where his mother used windex and paper towels for all cleaning jobs. It took me a while to teach my husband that this was not clean in any way. I do not want the people my children partner with to look at me like I’m some kind of crazy for what they think is clean.

            1. Autumnheart*

              I’m flashing on the various scenes in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where the dad sprays everything with Windex.

        11. Thany*

          I had an ex-boyfriend who bragged to me that he never learned to do his laundry because he always convinced other girls in his dorm to do it for him.

          My next boyfriend was able to do his own laundry. Reader, I married him. ;)

          1. Shoes On My Cat*

            Ha! I had a buddy pay me $20 for doing his laundry-and I chose what to fold and how (ie not his shorts!). We had 4 machines so it took no time. Then he asked how much to iron a shirt. I told him $20. He said “for that much I’ll do it myself!” Yep!;-)

        12. Snarkastic*

          I don’t remember when I first did laundry, but I think I just looked at the machine and figured out which cycles to choose. It’s not that confounding.

          1. Mimi*

            It depends on the machine. Some are very simple, but others are poorly labeled, very complicated, finicky about the door, etc. My mom says you need a phd to operate hers (and yet the laundry still gets done somehow, despite our lack of qualifications).

    2. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

      My NHS member cousin couldn’t type on a computer so her plans to turn in her assignments back in the late 90’s was for her to hand write everything, FedEx it to her mother and my aunt would type and proofread and FedEx it back. My aunt’s parenting unfortunately caused her severe psychological harm after years and she only lasted two weeks in college. It was insane.

      1. misplacedmidwesterner*

        Back in the 70s, my dad realized he couldn’t get his term paper done, so he drove home in the middle of the night for his mother to type it for him. Then he realized he was 90 minutes from school with an assignment that was done but due in 60 minutes. He made it…
        In his defense in the 1970s no one was teaching men how to use the typewriters.

        1. Artemesia*

          In the late 60s I stayed up all night to type my then husband’s law school paper because he had procrastinated and it was due the next day and men couldn’t type back then for the most part, then I went to the local high school and taught my usual six classes. His partner on the project didn’t get his part done, so they still got a poor grade for lateness. Did I mention it was the former husband ; ditched him and married Mr. Wonderful who is with me in France traveling at the moment in our 47th year of marriage.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I don’t think his defense was 100% solid… my uncle was a USArmy clerk.

          1. misplacedmidwesterner*

            He did later teach himself to type using Mavis Beacon teaches typing (his college was very late 70s). It was funny when I was little because he used to race me with typing games (he’d take a turn then I would take a turn, I was like 6) because he wanted me to be a better typer than him.

        3. TardyTardis*

          They were teaching guys how to use typewriters in our high school…but I guess not everywhere.

      2. Miss Muffet*

        my freshman year roommate’s mom would call and beg her to quit college and move back home with her because she missed her. Who does that?!

        1. Mimi Me*

          My MIL did that when my husband and I first moved in together. Unfortunately for her he didn’t want to go back.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          My freshman roommate’s mom was always calling and begging her to transfer to a college in her home state because she missed her.

          This was before everyone had cell phones and we had a shared land line in our dorm room. No caller ID because that cost money. Her mom called usually multiple times a day and if I picked up the phone because she wasn’t there, her mom would interrogate me about her daughter. Where was she? How was she doing in her classes? Was she eating right? How was she sleeping?

          About 3 weeks in I bought a $15 answering machine and started screening our calls.

        3. MotherofCats*

          My mother. She also said college was a waste of time because it didn’t teach practical skills like typing or book keeping!

        4. Gadget Hackwrench*

          My husband’s mother basically did that to him after graduation. He had moved in with me because we were quite serious, but she would remind him at every opportunity that “you can always come home!” They were also apparently appalled that he proposed when he did, after we’d been together 8 years, when he was 29 years old… because “aren’t you still a little young to get married?” At first I took it personal, like they loved me before the proposal, but now that we’re getting married they’re being nutso… but then I remembered things like his mother always thanking me “for taking such good care of him for us” like I was a babysitter instead of a girlfriend and I realized that some parents just can’t fathom their child becoming an adult!

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        That’s crazy – I was in school in the 90s, and there were people on campus that would do that for you for less than FedEx overnight would cost. I did a lot of proofreading for my friends for free because my English teacher mother raised a grammar pedant.

        I still stand by the assertion that typing was the most useful class I took in high school. Our class was taught by an amazing former executive assistant, and she even got the most hopelessly uncoordinated amongst us typing pretty proficiently by semester-end.

        1. Carlie*

          Me too. My high school typing class was taught by a guy a year from retirement who came in drunk sometimes, and it was STILL probably the most useful skill I got.
          (My other teachers were good. But typing fast is so useful in so many ways…)

        2. JJ*

          Pretty well all the booze I had in my dorm room was thanks to typing. Want your essay typed up quick & easy? Bring me beer or pizza. Worked a treat and kept my out of pocket down.

        3. Skullclutter*

          Agreed. My 9th grade Computer Science class (way back in the mid 90s) was basically “Touch-Typing 101”, and I’ve definitely got a lot of mileage out of that one. What baffles me in retrospect is that it was an elective.

        4. TardyTardis*

          I made very good money and nearly killed my poor little Olivetti doing typing. And when I did typing/word processing in the 1980’s before computers were really available, I made good money and learned a ton about artifacts and grid cutoff (radiology techs at our local college).

          1. TardyTardis*

            And I took a class called Brush Up Typing that got my wpm up from 50+ to 80+–and I get gusts up to 100 on a computer, though not perfectly.

      4. Doris*

        Interesting. I remember still being allowed to submit handwritten assignments in the late 90s, but I was at the end of high school, not at university yet.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          When I was thirteen, my parents got my something called a TypeWrite for Christmas. It came with a workbook of lessons. Over the next year and a half, I played with the thing so much I taught myself to type. This was a blessing to my teachers, since my handwriting was (and still is) atrocious.

    3. Clisby*

      Whoa. When my daughter was a college freshman, she had an acquaintance whose mother AND father called her every single day. Separately. I thought I was helicoptering when I encouraged my daughter to check in once a week.

      1. Teapot Unionist*

        My dad called me daily until I was like 27. It wasn’t helicoptering per se. My parents divorced when I was 3 and he got in the habit of calling me each day I was with my mom when he got home from work to check in and find out about my day and then he never stopped. It was always a very quick call–like 3 to 5 minutes. Thankfully, my friends in college thought it was sweet. Weird, but sweet.

          1. Emma the Strange*

            Yeah, to me, helicoptering involves trying to manage your child’s life for them. Daily phone calls sound like a lot to me, but also sound benign if it’s just your standard “How was your day?” stuff

        1. Allornone*

          I’m 37 and still call my mom every day for the exact same reason. They divorced when I was young; my dad got custody; I called my mom every day and just… never stopped. Again, usually very short conversations, check-ins really. I know it’s weird, but my live-in boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind (I mostly call her driving home from work anyway). Besides, my mom kind of needs it. My other sister NEVER calls.

        2. Kira*

          My parents do that too. They usually call for a few minutes while they are driving back to work. I can see how it can seem like a lot, but it’s not helicoptering. It depends on each person’s personality, but there are friends I talk to every day or almost everyday, I don’t think its that bad if I talk to my parents every day/two days.

        3. Twenty Points for the Copier*

          My college roommate talked to her mother on the phone every day. It was maybe a little time consuming but didn’t seem that weird… her father had passed away a couple of years earlier and I think the calls were as much for her to check in on her mom and keep her company as they were for her mom to check in on her.

        4. clockworklemon*

          My dad and I talk almost every day because he also got in the habit of calling me in the evenings after my parents divorced when I was very young.

          I started college at 17 and talked to my mom almost every day too–it was lonely being all the way across the country by myself, and none of my friends could relate because they all grew up 45min to an hour away from where we attended school and got to go home on weekends.

        5. Phoenix Programmer*

          Same here. I talked to my mom about an hour every day in college. She died when I turned 30. No regrets!

        6. Not So NewReader*

          I remember my grandmother used to call my mother every night around the same time. She did that right up until she died. My mother was 50 by that time. She called all her daughters, my mother’s oldest sib was pushing 60 and she still got the daily phone call also. Like you are saying the calls were benign, “Everything okay? Well, okay then. I will talk to you tomorrow. Sleep good.”

          I think about that stuff some because my grandmother was born in the late 1800s. She did not have phones growing up. She probably enjoyed instantly knowing her daughters were okay each night.

        7. Little Orange Nail*

          I’m 39, married, have kids, etc and I talk to my parents nearly every day and have since I went off to college at 18. They don’t try to interfere with my life or anything, we just talk about our day, anything fun or interesting that happened, books or interesting articles we read, stuff like that. These aren’t long conversations, rarely more than 15-20 minutes, often shorter. My kids get to say hi to their Babcia and Grandpa almost every day. It’s nice.

      2. Mama Bear*

        I knew someone whose very interfering grandmother would show up on campus unannounced (especially on weekends) to make sure that the student wasn’t up to something that in the grand’s mind she shouldn’t be.

        1. only acting normal*

          I’m glad my grandmother’s say on such matters was “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do… that leaves you plenty of leeway!” :D

          1. Scrooge McDunk*

            My grandmother had a similar attitude…. except, oddly enough, when it came to the subject of undershirts (which she called shimmies). I couldn’t leave the house without her asking me if I was wearing a shimmy, then being aghast when I inevitably said no. She wore a shimmy every day and she was DETERMINED that I would too.

      3. Cuddles the Shark*

        Heh. I’m 34 and I have to text my mother when I get home every day or else she thinks I’m dead (honestly, it’s a step forward. When I was in college I had to CALL her every day). Last night I left my phone on silent after work and by the time I checked it, I had five missed calls and several voice mails. I then got a lecture about how she was about to call 911 and did I have emergency contact info in my wallet? In case I’m in the hospital!?

        Granted, I live alone cross-country, so I appreciate the thought because if I actually HAD fallen down the stairs or whatnot, it’s good to know that someone’s looking out for me. But there’s gotta be a better way. I wish I could talk her into seeing someone about her anxiety and maybe getting on some medication, but she’s been this way all my life so I’m used to it. Just occasionally frustrated.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          A friend in college went home for the weekend with some of his friends junior year and forgot to tell his overprotective parents where he was – this was before cell phones. They called his dorm room repeatedly over the course of the weekend, and, boy, was his roommate surprised when the police showed up to investigate.

        2. Gadget Hackwrench*

          I have to do the same with my father, but thankfully not every day. Only when I’m going home from having visited with him. If I don’t I get a phone call from mom because he’s scared I’m in a ditch. I’m 34 and married. I’m sure my husband would notice if I didn’t come home. Then again my father wears a full orange reflector vest to go for a walk in the neighborhood, just to make sure no cars hit him… so….

      4. MotherofCats*

        I was supposed to check in once a week. Of course I would often flake & miss my scheduled time. Dad would then try to call the police to come check on me & Mom would have to talk him down :-)

    4. SeluciaMD*

      MIND BLOWN. I feel so bad for this poor girl! I can barely wrap my brain around this level of control and involvement. Total insanity.

    5. M. Albertine*

      Wow, I thought it was bad when a parent at freshman orientation demanded online access to her assignments and coursework.

      1. Pinky Lady*

        Higher ed professional here – had a mom come turn in her kid’s immunizations for graduate school – a professional doctorate degree! Had another parent converse with me all summer to get classes arranged – didn’t talk to the son until almost time for orientation!

      2. Your kid's TA, not yours*

        When I was a TA, I had one of my students’ fathers call me to discuss his grades. He tried several tactics, including “he’s only 17 so he’s not an adult yet and I’m responsible for him,” “I’m paying for his classes so I should have access to his grades,” and finally hit me with “I’ll report to the dean that you are completely unhelpful.” My response to that was, “The dean is the one who told me about our privacy policy, so go ahead and call her. I think we’re done now?”

        I only wish I could have been that blunt when I was still teaching middle school.

    6. JKP*

      A few years after I left college, the university I went to changed their longstanding freshman orientation traditions and ceremonies to include a formal “goodbye” ceremony for the parents on day 1 because so many parents wouldn’t leave, the school had to basically formally kick them out.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Howard University in DC does this. They actually have the incoming freshmen and parents in a park-like area of the grounds out front, the students parade through a set of gates, and then they ***close and lock*** the gates behind them as a pointed symbol.

        I think that’s actually pretty cool.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          AMAZING. I want this for my kids! Although both of them show signs they’ll grow up to be properly independent, it’s still nice to have that official “now you get to live your own life” transition.

      2. JokeyJules*

        my university had that too! on move-in day for freshman, you were handed your student ID. You had a few hours to move all of your stuff in and then they had a big welcome assembly. you could only get in to the assembly with an ID, so all the parents had to leave by then. it definitely looked tough for a few families to let go

      3. Zephy*

        My university structured their freshman move-in day to separate the parents and students as soon as the car was unloaded, more or less – there were important-sounding “parent information sessions” conveniently scheduled at the same time as the mandatory-fun Orientation Activities for students. The later afternoon and evening was also jam-packed with more mandatory fun, so the parents and students would have time to hug goodbye before the kid had to go off to the next thing.

      4. Geillis D*

        Did they read aloud “The Kissing Hand”? That’s what they did at my kids’ kindergarten on the first day of school.

      5. Acornia*

        Only 6 years ago, when my daughter went off to college at a small state school 2 hours away, she was *required* to bring a parent to an orientation in July if her parent lived less than 200 miles away. Tried to get out of it but they wouldn’t let her register for fall classes unless I attended.
        She attended a bunch of useful sessions on how to register, how to navigate online course assignments, how housing, meals and student IDs worked, etc. I wasted a whole freaking day attending sessions about how I needed to let my child be an adult and not helicopter. Explanations of why I won’t be allowed to log into their account. Explanations of why they won’t share their meal card use with parents. Explanations that campus security does not do lights out checks. Instructions to NOT call the RA on duty if you haven’t heard from your kid in 3 hours, unless there are extraordinary circumstances. It was so patronizing and frustrating! Drove two hours each way and paid a $25 fee for the privilege.
        Oh, the irony….
        (I hear they don’t require it any more but do still offer it for parents who want to attend. Who are probably the ones that need it.)

    7. Bagpuss*

      When I was in Uni, (which is 25 years ago, now) one of the girls in my hall of residence was a bit likethis, althouhg not as bad. Her motherdrove up every weekend to bring her a week’s worth of home made frozen meals, and to collect her laundry and bring back the clean laundry from the previous week.
      We shared a kitchem and at the end of the first term we (the 5 UK stedents ) decided to cook a traditional christmas dinner for the whole group (the other 7 tudents sharing the kitchen etc were all from overseas, mostly from Hong Kng and Taiwan)
      I organised the cooking, which is how I found out that helicopter daughter literally did not k bow how to cook anything. She asked me how to boil carrots, and then came to ask me how she would knowwhhn the water was boiling…

      1. buttrue???*

        My sophomore year there was a freshman in my dorm who didn’t know how to do anything either (70s). Her mom had always done everything when she was growing up. I just assumed it had to do with the fact that they were a military family and it was just easier to have mom in charge of all household areas and never thought about teaching the kids. I have wondered about her over the years. She eloped after 6 weeks of school with a senior.

      2. Lizzy May*

        I ran into something similar my first week of university. We had a field day and it was wet so everyone was a muddy mess. I went down to the laundry room afterwards to washing my muddy clothing and there were multiple people in there, on cell phones getting laundry instructions from a parent. One of them was my neighbor and when I asked him about it, he told me the plan was for his parents to come 7 hours every two weeks to swap out dirty and clean clothes and have his “club clothes” dry cleaned but he figured he should try to wash this one outfit because it sitting muddy for a week would be bad.

        1. Observer*

          OK, at least this kid had some sense. Dare we hope that this actually taught him that it’s fine to do his own laundry?

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          There was a girl in my dorm who did this, but with sheets she’d thrown up on while drunk and left in the hamper for several weeks before she decided to learn how to do laundry.

          And then she wondered why her roommate changed rooms.

        3. No Luke, *I* Am Your Father*

          confession: I also entered college not knowing how to do my own laundry! My dad was the type of guy who always figured it was easier to do something himself than try to explain to someone else. He said that our washing machine was too complicated because it had been salvaged from NYC streets. The first few times I asked help from whoever was unlucky enough to be in the laundry room same time as me. Years later, I asked my dad to show me how to use our Very Complicated Washing Machine. Turns out the complicated part was you just had to put a hose into the sink before you pressed the on button. Argh!!

      3. Elemeno P.*

        To be fair, that happened to me as well (minus my mother visiting and taking care of me every weekend; she dropped me off and that was that). I entered college knowing how to make scrambled eggs and bake, and…that’s it. My mom worked 80 hours a week and didn’t have time to cook, so my only observations of her cooking were on the weekends (thus, scrambled eggs and baking). Had to learn somewhere!

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          When I started collage I didn’t know how to iron. My mother had never let me near the ironing board. Later I found out it was because her iron board cover had a full size picture of a naked man on it.

          1. Elemeno P.*

            That is amazing.

            I did know how to iron, specifically because my mom didn’t like doing it so she handed it over to me. I bet she would have liked it more if it had been similarly decorated!

            1. Also Amazing*

              Haha, that’s what my mom would do, too! She noticed I was interested in ironing at a young age and taught me how to do it cuz she hates it. This is also how I learned to do my own laundry at like age 4. Used to have a “special laundry chair” because the stool we had was too hard for tiny me to set up by myself.

          2. datamuse*

            I must confess, I’m 44 and still don’t really know how to iron. When I wore a cotton dress to my brother’s wedding, my husband had to iron it for more.

              1. Kundor*

                When? I have literally never ironed anything (and it’s not because I get other people to do it for me…)

            1. SpicySpice*

              My husband does my ironing too. I think it’s a ridiculous practice so I never bothered to learn.

              1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

                I hate ironing and am terrible at it, so on the very rare occasions when something needs ironed, I punt that over to my husband, so can also do basic sewing.

            2. PersephoneUnderground*

              I’ll admit, my husband knows how to iron and I have pretty much forgotten what little I knew. I think it’s because men’s shirts just need ironing more often, so of course he’s the one who knows how to do it! (Thinking there may have been a time not long ago when he would be the one needing all that ironing done but I would have been the one to do it, since I’m the wife, ugh! So happy to live in 2019 in a relationship of equals.)

              1. Tess Not the Mess*

                My son had to learn how to iron when he was in the Navy–each sailor is responsible for their uniform looking its best. He also had to mend, sew on buttons, etc. (By the way, we parents had some difficulty finding him a sewing kit that wasn’t pink. Geeze. I would have put a kit together myself, but it was cheaper to get a ready-made one, once we found it.)

              2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                I hate ironing, although I’m quite capable of doing it. I took a leaf out of my mom’s book: when dad joined the Air Force and became responsible for having a properly pressed uniform she flatly refused to do it. He discovered both irons and dry cleaners, and he took his work clothes to the cleaners until he completely retired. My husband just does his own but I would never agree to be in charge of all the ironing!

                1. Skullclutter*

                  I was the same way. I could iron, but I hated doing it. Then I decided to take up sewing because I was tired of never having decent pockets in my pants. D’oh.

                  I can put up with ironing if it means getting decent pockets out of the deal.

                1. PersephoneUnderground*

                  I do use the “throw wrinkled item in dryer with damp washcloth for 5-10 minutes” trick a lot, it’s great for basically steaming wrinkles out of clothes. I also laughed at “ironing wrinkles into” clothes- yeah, sometimes I feel like that’s what I’m doing when I attempt to iron!

            3. Delightful Daisy*

              I’m 49 and my son is better with the iron than either of his parents. I don’t know if my husband even knows how to iron. We moved a few years ago and my husband got rid of the iron and ironing board. We had to buy new ones when son came to visit. lol I am seriously considering a steamer but I’m a fan of hang it up right away to avoid the wrinkles. DH is a fan of “wear it wrinkled”. lol

        2. Bagpuss*

          Sure, you need to learn some time, it was in part that she literally couldn’t boil water, and partly that we were a term into the year at this point, so she’d been away from home for 8 weeks and apparently never once done anything at all for herself…

      4. Lily Rowan*

        Oh yeah, I had a friend in college who didn’t know how to grate cheese! Which came out at our graduation party when my father suggested she help out.

        1. L.S. Cooper*

          Wait… grate CHEESE? I thought my roommates had some bad knowledge gaps. (One didn’t know not to pour bacon grease down the sink, another was about to pour boiling hot water into a glass container that had been in the fridge overnight when I realized and stopped her.)

          1. Amber T*

            I don’t think my parents ever once grated cheese when I was growing up – we always had the pre-shredded stuff. I never grated cheese until I was 27 and was planning on making mac and cheese, and my boyfriend half recommended half pleaded to get a small block of cheese and shred it ourselves because it would be so much better – and it was! I do shred a fingertip or two while grating cheese though (I’ll peel part of my finger too when using a peeler), so I’m not sure if that counts as not knowing haha!

            1. L.S. Cooper*

              I definitely avoid it when I can, specifically because of the finger thing you mentioned. I like my fingers and like them being attached to my body, thanks!
              But I think there’s a difference between “I’ve never done this thing before” and “I can’t figure out how one would do something like shred cheese.”
              (Also, definitely off topic, but my uncle gifted us one of those fancy rotary cheese graters like they have at restaurants, and HOLY MOLY. It is amazing.)

              1. Pebbles*

                My husband just gave me one of those rotary graters for our anniversary! I can’t wait until dinner tonight to try it out. :)

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                We somehow ended up with three rotary graters in my house when we moved in together, except I’m pretty sure I’ve never personally owned a rotary grater. We also have a box grater with a mandoline that is helpful for not grating one’s body parts.

                People like to buy my spouse kitchen gadgets because a man who cooks is kind of novel for a lot of them. We have… a lot of them.

              3. Owler*

                A food processor (like a Cuisinart) often comes with a blade for grating cheese. Highly recommend this for those large blocks of cheddar. :)

        2. Sparkly Librarian*

          This story works better with the visual gestures, but…

          My sister’s boyfriend was a grown man of about 30 when he joined us for a family brunch at my parents’. I was in charge of bacon, my sister was toasting bagels, my wife was pouring juice and then said she’d cook the scrambled eggs, etc. She asked him to scramble them up with some milk (starting a conversation with my mom about how SHE preferred to use water)… and then we noticed that he had cracked eggs into the bowl, placed the whisk vertically in the bowl, and was rolling the handle between his palms. AKA, the slowest and least efficient way to whisk anything. He had no idea how it worked.

      5. Hats Are Great*

        I went away to college not knowing how to do laundry — I was the oldest of four, and my mom’s housework priority was getting it done quickly and efficiently, not teaching us. She tried once to teach one of us to do laundry but it messed up her whole time management system, so she just did it.

        I also only really knew how to make spaghetti (and bake) when I left home.

        But, like, I had confidence these were learnable skills and I had confidence I could either read directions or ask for help. There’s so MANY things you have to learn to live on your own, nobody leaves home knowing them all. I knew how to advocate for myself and navigate bureaucracies and get information, which a lot of my peers did not know. So, I wasn’t too fussed about the laundry, it only took two rounds of doing it to feel pretty confident at it.

        1. only acting normal*

          My mother was oddly territorial about her washing machine. I used to do a *lot* of the ironing as a teen, but not washing, although I knew *how* to do it. At uni I was still quite close to home, so my washing went home rather than to the laundrette. Actually, me doing that probably prevented my mother getting obsessed with some other aspect of my not being under her roof – a safety valve if you will.

    8. Amber T*

      Oh nooooo I called (and still call) my mom every day to chat, but this is a ridiculous extreme.

    9. Angry Scientist*

      I had one of these roommates in college! My freshman year, my first roommate got pregnant in the first semester and dropped out, so this new girl was getting “kicked out” of her dorm in another building, so she became my problem. She had skipped a grade so she was only 17. Her mom used to come EVERY weekend and STAY in our shoebox of a dorm room, sleeping IN the single bed with her daughter. The mother wouldn’t really speak to me, and would give one-word answers if you tried to talk to her. She also came to stay during finals week, so I had to deal with my roommate AND HER MOTHER in my first ever college finals week. We had a class together which happened to be my last final, so I went back to my room to pack some stuff so I could just grab it and leave for home. Her mom, in probably the first thing she ever said to me, asked if she could use my (new) tv with the built-in DVD player while we were taking our test, and I said I didn’t mind. When I came back after my final, her mother HANDED ME THE DVD TRAY and said “this came out.”
      That room mate didn’t come back after Christmas break.

      1. JokeyJules*

        oof, i dont remember that the mom ever slept over, and she was always polite and friendly to us. our dorm had some visiting rules for non-student visitors (have to leave by midnight, all sleepovers had to be signed in, etc), so she’d come for a few hours, but way too frequently.

        I dont know what happened with the girl unfortunately, but this lasted both semesters that they were my neighbors

    10. BottleBlonde*

      Yikes. I have a good friend with an extremely controlling mother (my friend still calls her every month to go over her credit card statement with her…line by line…for the credit card she pays for entirely on her own…..she’s 28 years old). But this is even more extreme than anything I’ve seen from her. That poor girl.

    11. Anax*

      Oof. Yeah, my mom was very much like this, too. I shut her down hard before I entered the working world, which I’m really grateful for.

      When I started college, she would send 5-10 emails per day, and demand to be on the phone for 2-3 hours per night. She brought me grocery bags of food every week, and if I didn’t send detailed reviews, she threw tantrums about how I didn’t love her. She insisted on doing all my shopping – I got yelled at for spending $2 on shampoo – and doing all my laundry. She would review my phone logs, and when I texted someone from a different area code, she ran a background check and decided I was in a drug cult.

      She’d largely screamed herself out by the time I started my college jobs and internships, thankfully.

      The few times I let her give me a ride to work, she spent the ride screaming at me so that I would spend the first hour of work crying, in an internship where I really wanted to impress. (I had to talk the director into taking me on, because he’d had bad experiences with less-than-useless interns. I ended up being a rockstar, and had a really great experience.)

      But… nothing catastrophic. I just stopped being alone with my crazy mother.

        1. Anax*

          Yeahhh. I say it flippantly, but it was a years-long, painful process – not because I wasn’t committed to independence, but because every act of “defiance” was met with suicide threats, attacks on me, and bizarre punishments.

          However syrupy and dependent these helicoptered kids seem, I have to wonder if they’re suffering the same way behind the scenes. When you’re trapped for years in that kind of situation, you almost have to believe you like it. It’s the only way to survive, when insufficient gratitude and happiness are enough to start another round of punishment.

          I had to be completely independent before I could cut the apronstrings completely, because she would use any “”dependence”” as a wedge to helicopter further. That’s a lot of work. Cut all financial and practical ties, never ask for any favor or advice, and accept losing anything tied to her – including friends, family, and all childhood mementos. I ended up moving across the country.

          It’s HARD, and I really get why so many folks have trouble with it.

          1. Blue Anne*

            I hear you. I tried to do it by going to college in Scotland. Mom “coincidentally” got a visiting professorship at a Scottish university 45 minutes away from me for freshman year.

            1. Anax*

              Thankfully, I have a defense against that: Mom likes my brother more than me.

              If she ever follows one of us, it’ll be him. Sorry, bro.

          2. Anon for this*

            Solidarity. I am still working on boundary setting, and I am well into my 30s. I was into my 20s before I learned the suicide threats were manipulation.

            1. Anax*

              Solidarity. It’s awful stuff, and it really did a number on me. Even at work – it’s so hard not to slot my boss into a parental role, and go into that ‘eager to please’ mode.

          3. Gazebo Slayer*

            That is emotional abuse – and yes, I think most of these helicoptered kids don’t want it and sadly some in the more extreme cases are suffering like you did.

            I’m glad you got out. You are courageous and resourceful.

          4. Flash Bristow*

            You might appreciate JustNoMIL on reddit – it’s for people to rant about their mothers as well as in laws. I’ve found it helpful.

      1. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        OMG did you have my mother?? Lol. Sounds exactly like her. Except those tears came before driving me to middle and high school. Some scars, I tell ya. It took AAM and 6 more years post-college before I made myself financially independent then cut off contact, then grey-rocked (limited contact). And she wonders why I don’t like her. It’s not a matter of “like.” I’m pretty easy-going. If you make me cry frequently, scream at me to leave my now-husband, and trash everything and everyone I love and my hobbies and friends, of course I’m losing every shred of respect for you…

        1. Anax*

          They are cut from the same cloth, clearly! I’m still dealing with the PTSD, but being across the country helps so darn much; I’ve been LC for years, but I started crying as GF and I did our cross-country move, because it was such a relief not to feel WATCHED for once in my life.

          1. PersephoneUnderground*

            Quick plug- my husband has done EMDR therapy for dealing with the fallout from controlling parents like this, and it’s helped enormously. I also highly recommend the book “If you had Controlling Parents” – it was our therapist’s #1 recommendation on the subject, and there were lots of “wow, that’s totally my mom” for him reading it. Not assuming anything about your treatment or diagnosing, but both of these things were helpful to us so thought I’d mention them here in case they help others reading this thread.

            1. Anax*

              Thanks! I’m actually looking for a therapist now, so that’s super timely. :)

              I do pretty well these days, but I’m working on getting my mental house in better order. It’s all a long, exasperating process – but SOMEDAY, I will be unphased by angry dishwashing!

    12. Anonymously*

      I chose a college 600 miles away from home specifically so my mother wouldn’t visit campus. She insisted on driving me to and from college every semester, no matter how many times I said I could drive myself. During the drives, she never let me drive the car, no matter how many times I asked.

      After I graduated, she send in an application for a job at a vet clinic without my knowledge–and they hired me! I thought that if I backed out of the job offer after I’d “applied” it would reflect poorly on me, so I took the position addtion to working a full-time job.

      I wish I’d had the courage to talk to a counselor in college about my mother’s behavior, but I thought they’d say I was the problem. I feel for that poor woman, being a young adult in her twenties and treated like a child.

    13. Observer*

      She may not have been born with a disability, but by that point, she clearly DID have one. The good news is that it’s quite possible that with the right support, she can overcome it.

      The disability? The inability to make her own decisions and to do any sort of planning whatsoever.

    14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      That’s scary stuff, like they make movies about mother’s like that and they do not end well.

      1. Observer*

        The two are not mutually exclusive. A lot of helicoptering is abusive, even if the parents mean well.

        Have you ever seen parents who are SOOOO worried about their kids eating only PERFECT foods that the kids wind up with a ridiculous diet? They mean well, but they are still abusing their kids. Same thing with a lot of these behaviors.

        1. Anax*

          Yep. And from the outside, it can be really hard to tell whether strict or strange behavior has a good reason, or whether it’s abuse. Everyone thought my mom was weird and helicopter-y – but only a couple people recognized the abuse, before I started telling the really nasty stories.

          Say… I think it’s generally accepted in the US that children in their tweens and up deserve a certain amount of privacy.

          I’ve seen parents go through their kids’ rooms in an abusive way – looking for a diary to read, throwing away or holding hostage favorite toys, refusing to give privacy while a child is changing.

          I’ve also seen parents do it in a pretty reasonable way – say, an adopted child who hoards food due to past trauma, and whose stashes are causing insect infestations. Sorry, tween, it is not ok for your bed to be full of ants and spiders.

          Ditto, behavior which would be fine or helicopter-y in most contexts can be abuse in others, depending on the context.

          Mom didn’t give me an allowance growing up – and that’s totally fine and pretty normal, if a little overprotective.

          She did it because she wanted me to be dependent on her and under her control for even the smallest purchases, because she saw me as an extension of herself – even in college, I was required to use her shampoo, her deodorant, wear the clothes she bought me. She made sure I didn’t have a job or pocket money, so I couldn’t make independent choices. That’s messed up – but that’s very hard to know from the outside.

          Alison’s talking about things up to and including sabotaging adults’ careers, so I think a discussion of when helicoptering becomes abusive is relevant.

          1. Mia*

            This. My mom was very much emotionally abusive for most of my life, but I think to people outside our home she just seemed like an overprotective nag.

            1. Anax*

              Growing up, the only person who picked up on it was my friend-group’s “Team Mom”, who took a lot of abused underclassmen under her wing. She had enough experience to recognize the signs, and jump from “this boy is weird” to “this boy has serious, untreated PTSD, and I bet that his weird mom is related.”

              In my experience, it’s all about whether people know enough abuse survivors to recognize the signs; 95% of people will miss them – then bend over backward to explain away Mom’s abuse, and try to convince me to have a closer relationship with her. It’s a strikingly stark dichotomy.

              1. Anon govt workerbee*

                So true! My best friend since high school (we are in our 30’s) has a slightly milder version of your mom. She just finally in the last two years was able to cut off contact and is so much happier and healthier for it. I am happy to support her decision to cut off contact. But now she has to deal with endless well-meaning “that’s so sad, you should reach out, life is too short, you will regret this, be the bigger person” type advice from so many people. Having to go low- or no-contact with your own parent for your mental health is hard enough without everyone who does not know the situation telling you you are wrong.

              2. P peace*

                People sometimes push that closeness because they don’t have enough details. That’s not easy. But it might help you to see who else your parents abusive behavior affected through you. Like maybe your gf for one.

              3. P peace*

                It’s great you’re sharing your story. In my experience with people in your position, most people around the person in your position growing up maybe didn’t know the details but knew something was horribly wrong, the abuse, and didn’t want the abuse to spread to them. Adults, child friends, dating partners, or adult friends often kept their healthy distance. A helicopter parent shows their hand because they are trying to control the environment of their children. And that involves others. But maybe your situation was different. I was speaking in a more general way bc I agree that these situations aren’t talked about enough.

          1. Observer*

            Of course it is. I’m not minimizing that. I’m just pointing out that there is a significant overlap between abuse and helicoptering. And *sometimes* it’s well intended, but even then it’s still abusive.

        2. Jasnah*

          Sure, I definitely see some overlap. But abuse stories aren’t fun. I prefer to read the helicoptering-because-they’re-spoiled stories.

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          OMG, yes. I knew a woman once with all sorts of bizarre beliefs about what was “healthy.” She demanded her teenage son eat a vegan, nut-free, soy-free, wheat-free, sugar-free, citrus fruit free (ok….) diet and claimed he was allergic to all those things, which he was not; he ate the forbidden stuff on the sly and was fine. She told him that if he ever ate sugar he needed to eat activated charcoal as an antidote, because “sugar is poison.”

          She also refused to use any cleaning products because it was “bad for the environment” and frequently kept the kid home from school “sick” when he wasn’t; once it was because she insisted her neighbor had hexed him. No, really.

    15. BadRoommate*

      Ok this makes me feel marginally better about my college roommate situation! My freshman year I befriended another girl in my major and we were fast friends, decided to live together in the dorms sophomore year. It wasn’t until that summer before we moved in together that I started to realize I might have made a huge mistake. She and her mom were attached at the hip in a weird, co-dependent way.

      Thankfully her mom came and picked her up on the weekends so I had the dorm to myself and got a break from the drama, but during the week all bets were off. Her mom called every morning; they fought every morning. She’d call her mom at night; they’d fight every night. They fought over small matters and never to a level that I figured it was worth reporting to housing, but it was the consistency/frequency that got to me– and to her! Her friends and I tried to get her to lay off the calls and stay over the weekends to no avail. I finally gave up on being able to intervene and got up early to beat her out of the dorm and stayed out of the building until she went to bed because it was starting to stress me out.

      It seemed surprising at the time, but she dropped out mid-semester when she didn’t get the schedule she wanted and said that she never felt welcomed (she had friends! We wanted to hang out with her!). I’ve kept in touch with her over the years, she transferred and eventually graduated, worked briefly and has been living with her parents unemployed for a few years. Seems like their relationship has not improved a bit :/

    16. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I have to glue my head back together, it exploded just thinking about that.

    17. Jessen*

      I’m kind of hoping in another 10 years mom is sitting back wondering why her daughter moved with no forwarding address and changed her number.

    18. College Career Counselor*

      I know of a mother who *moved in* to her daughter’s freshman dorm with her. Stayed there overnight (and either hid or left during the day) for SIX WEEKS until the daughter’s roommate finally asked the RA whether this was normal.

    19. Jay*

      My daughter just finished her first year in college and has a friend whose mom called her every day to wake up up and reminded her when assignments were due. They’re going to room together next year (not my idea!) and friend’s mom decided the first room they drew wasn’t adequate, so she went to housing and got it changed – but didn’t include my kid. My kid called housing herself and found out there was another room in the apartment, and then friend’s mom took it upon herself to call housing FOR MY KID, who was livid.

      Meanwhile, I told her she had to manage getting her own prescription transferred to the local pharmacy and ended my text “Welcome to adulting.” Her response: “If you think I’m bad at adulting, you should see my friends!” I don’t actually think she’s bad at adulting – not at all.

    20. Tinybutfierce*

      I went to college with someone similar. Her mother and grandmother would come down every two weeks to do her laundry, clean (they wouldn’t “let” her clean), etc.

      Our school was in North Carolina. They lived in New Jersey.

      :|

    21. kitty*

      I had a residence neighbour who was super close to her parents – her mom used to visit overnight and sleep on her floor. Not really a helicopter story, but it always struck me as above and beyond parenting haha.

    22. CMart*

      “Her mother had just been doing it for the last 20 years so why stop now.”

      Man. My oldest child isn’t even 3 yet and I have been counting down the days when I can stop tending to her every need for some time now!

    23. Ammonite*

      I have a cousin who had her parents proofread every assignment she ever wrote through grad school. They thought it was sweet she wanted their help and always joked about how the schools should award them degrees too.
      I also had a grad school classmate who had his wife do all of the footnotes and citations for his 100 page thesis. His argument was that since the ideas in the thesis were his, it still counted as his work, she was just doing the “boring cleanup parts”. He also said that since they were married, it was “basically expected” that she would help him.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Somebody needs to introduce this guy to Endnote or one of the many available alternatives (assuming this was a relatively recent experience).

    24. JustaTech*

      Nothing this bad, but still weird: my freshman year one of my suitemate’s mom would come by some afternoons and just hang out on our couch balancing her checkbook until her daughter came back from classes and then they would go do something. Because “Mom” was around all the time (she lived locally) it meant that daughter had to continue to abide by Mom’s rules about things like pictures of boys in her room (oy). So her solution to this was to put all the pictures of her Bollywood crushes up in the shared lounge and claim that *I* liked them. Mkay.

      Another kid in our dorm that year was taken home by his parents every weekend (they were also local). This would have been super weird, since we were required to live on campus as freshmen, but this kid was really young (16) and while we weren’t that rowdy and didn’t drink that much, we all agreed that maybe they weren’t completely wrong. It did stop after freshman year.

    25. It'sFriday,Friday*

      I worked with a 17 yr old senior in high school who’s mom did everything for her. The only reason the girl had a job was because her mom was friends with the owners. All the girl did was stand at the cash register doing nothing/talking on her cell phone/visiting with friends that came in. As a cashier you were supposed to ring people up and straighten the store products if not ringing up customers. I came into work one day and the girl was yelling at her mom because her mom hadn’t balanced her check book correctly or some crap. I found out later from the other cashier that her mom was a psychologist or something. I did work that job for very long and I just hope that at some point that girl got some space from her mom.

    26. tinyhipsterboy*

      I had a roommate in college whose mother would randomly come and stay for days (weeks? I don’t remember) at a time to do dishes and make dinner. I don’t even know where she slept, come to think of it. Our beds were king-sized, so maybe he just shared his bed with her…? I was never sure if it was just a thing because he was an international student or your run-of-the-mill attachment problems, but it was always jarring to decide I wanted a snack only to have a random woman standing in my kitchen. Oof.

      This, though? The vetting and everything? That sounds horrifying and abusive. I hope the daughter has managed to set boundaries and find therapy. Jesus. She shouldn’t have to deal with that.

  5. Picky*

    Had to fire a young employee (she was nineteen or twenty, an adult in our jurisdiction). Did it kindly and according to union rules. Left her in my office so she could have a few minutes to pull herself together. Went back ten minutes later, her mom was with her. Mom had pushed her way past the front desk into a staff-only area, and when I arrived proceeded to lay into me about damaging the self-confidence of her child. I listened for quite a while (half an hour or so) nodding sympathetically. Then told them both they would have to leave and that I could talk to the former employee tomorrow by phone if she wanted more details and felt up to hearing about it. The union also heard from the mother, and even they weren’t having any of it.

    1. CR*

      I lost my job today and my mom wanted to write my boss an angry email! Thanks Mom but please don’t.

      1. Scarlet*

        That’s sweet. I wish my mom was still around to do stuff like this for me.

        Back when I was 16 and I had my first job in fast-food, the manager changed the schedule last minute but hadn’t told me. He was pretty surprised when I turned up for what I thought was my next-scheduled shift, thinking that I had quit and having terminated me in the system.

        My mother marched down to that Subway store and REAMED him out saying “you may have thought you told her her schedule, but YOU DID NOT!”. It was so embarrassing at the time, but now it just makes me smile and remember how great she was.

      2. Just Elle*

        Sorry to hear that OP.

        I was 20 working in an extremely Toxic Job (union supervisor) where a large man cornered me in an office and threatened to kill my dog. HR did nothing. I had to talk both my mom and dad from flying down there to beat the guy up. Honestly I think the guy should have been more afraid of my mom lol.

        I do sometimes have to appreciate the mamma bear instinct – makes you feel loved, until they act on it in a super embarrassing (illegal?) way.

        1. Picky*

          I think what I found particularly sad about this was the young employee thought the lecture from her mother was going to get her job back. She kept nodding and looking hopefully at me. I had the sense this routine had played out before.

      3. veggiewolf*

        My son was “right sized” (I really hate that term) from the company we both work(ed) at last week. I definitely had the urge to yell at the decision-makers when it happened.

        For the record, I haven’t and won’t.

  6. Sarasaurus*

    Oh, I’m so excited to read these! I haven’t seen anything too egregious, but have definitely had parents email looking for internship opportunities for their college-aged children. I usually just respond with a link to our the careers page of our website and tell them we encourage their child to keep an eye out.

    1. ursula*

      I don’t even do that, at the risk of accidentally sending the message that we are excited to hear from Junior on account of this call. We only respond with “Thanks for your email. We will only discuss possible opportunities with the candidates themselves, as I’m sure you understand. Best regards, X.” Zero further engagement.

      1. irritable vowel*

        One of the most satisfying things about working in higher ed is telling a helicopter parent, “I’m sorry, we can only discuss grades/class schedule/overdue library books/whatever with the student.” They’re just so…taken aback to be reminded that their child is an adult with rights that exclude them from being involved.

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          I’m so glad you do this! When I was in college and had an issue with housing (disgusting mold growing on the walls of the dorm that made me sick), they really didn’t take me seriously or do anything about it. I was pretty upset that as a young adult, that was LIVING THERE that they didn’t take me more seriously. I hated having to do it, but I asked my mother to call in hopes they would do something. Turns out that when she called, they jumped and moved me to a different room.

          1. Alli525*

            There’s a difference here: a gross dorm room doesn’t fall under FERPA – I’m sure Irritable Vowel enjoys turning down helicopter parents, but they’re not doing it because they want to – they’re doing it because they’re legally required to do so. I work at a college and certainly hope that parents call in when there’s mold on the walls(!!)

          2. Proofin' Amy*

            Well, considering that students at the University of Maryland recently died from mold in their dorms triggering an adenovirus, it was the right thing to do!

          3. in a fog*

            Yep, same. My alma mater’s housing office “lost” my application for my sophomore dorm (while I had a confirmation number and printout of the transaction), and when I went in to speak to someone about it, they were like, “Sorry, you’re SOL!” So I called my dad since he was signing the checks and, magically, he was able to talk to the dean! I hated that I had to do it, but if they wouldn’t talk to me, maybe they’d talk to someone with money.

          4. anony-mouse*

            I had a similar experience. I advocated for myself as much as I could with trying to move my housing (a pretty intense roommate situation), but was so consistently gaslit, patronized to, and ignored that I eventually had my mom support me by calling into meetings with the housing people. I do think that her presence was what pushed them to finally act.

          5. JSB*

            We had a similar experience. College apartments notorious for blowing off the kids. Many, many verbal promises of maintenance, things to be handled. But later no luck with follow through. Bogus late charges. My daughter was self-directed, very capable. But at the end of her lease I had to step in and suddenly the leasing office backed off some unsubstantiated claims. Daughter did everything right; spent weeks calling, going by trying to resolve. But her being an “adult” didn’t help.

    2. frostipaws*

      I wish there were a word for offspring who are adults. I think it’s kind of ridiculous to refer to young adults as ‘children’. People who are old enough to drive, take out loans, rent an apartment, join the military, and vote are not children.

      1. AKchic*

        “Adult Children”. Just because it’s your “baaaaby” doesn’t mean the person isn’t a legal adult. Just because the “parent” in question didn’t actually parent properly and teach their grown child to actually adult in the real world properly doesn’t make them any less a legal adult with all the legal rights and responsibilities of a fully-functioning adult human being.
        Interpersonal relationships between the parent and child have no standing in the working world. I say this as an adult child who (unfortunately) works with her mother. We literally never bring it up to people. We look alike. We sound alike. But you won’t hear *us* mention our relationship. Usually it’s our boss who says something, or one of the coworkers who says something in passing to one of the newbies (who looks at us in confusion because we really do look and sound too much alike not to notice).

      2. Valprehension*

        “Son” or “Daughter” works fine in most cases – neither is inherently infantilizing. I don’t have a good age-neutral word for adult non-binary “children” though…

        1. Jakey*

          I’m an adult non-binary child, and when my parents are being chill they call me their kid, and when they’re talking to people who don’t know me they call me their firstborn. :)

  7. MuseumChick*

    Hired a kid for a part-time job. He was 20 years old and finishing up his college degree. Had worked at 2 – 3 other places before us. Among other things his parents 1) Would not let him drive to work when it was raining or snowing. They would drop him off and pick him up. 2) His first week they called him each day to “see how he was doing”. 3) Every paycheck he had to turn over to his parents to review “to make sure they were accurate”.

    He had an older sister and brother, both lived at home. Both had to hand their paychecks over for the parents to review.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      “For review” Geez, that sounds like the parents were looking for a good way to ensure that the kids could make no attempt at financial independence. That way they can check for things like any direct deposit money being moved to an account they don’t know of…

      1. MuseumChick*

        Yeah, I honestly felt bad for the kid and his siblings. I meet his sister once and it was just so clear just how sheltered/controlled these kids had been. All three had attended to same college (I didn’t have the heart to ask if the parents had picked the school because I felt the answer would have made me sad), attended very similar degrees, all lived at home, etc.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Yeah, this is a level of controlling that is outright abusive. This sounds like parents who want to keep their kids dependent forever.

      3. Jessen*

        Yeah that one’s actually scary. I hang out on reddit’s raised by narcissists section and that sort of behavior is common on parents who are making their kids turn their paychecks over. Often with exactly that goal – making sure the kid can’t save up to move out.

        1. I have a pug.*

          When I was in my mid twenties I moved into my mom’s house for about two years after grad school. She charged me rent which I thought was fair. Then, when I decided to move out she manipulated/guilt tripped me into *still!* paying rent even though I moved away. (I had to prove that I loved her. She had supported me for over twenty-five years. She needed my money. Etc., etc., etc.) I was a young adult trying to become independent— and I was paying my mom ~ $400 each month. I paid my mom several hundred dollars for the rest of her life, and that’s not counting the times I gave her ~ $5,000.

      4. Tom & Johnny*

        It’s now a recognized form of abuse called financial abuse.

        And it’s designed to do exactly that, keep the person dependent and without options.

        It’s one method used in an arsenal of other abusive tactics. It doesn’t travel alone, but reinforces and puts teeth into the other ones.

    2. Zip Silver*

      That’s not entirely unreasonable. You hear about people (especially younger employees) getting screwed out of hours through creative accounting all the time, especially at small businesses and places like restaurants.

      1. MuseumChick*

        But once you are in your mid-twenties and had several jobs? This kid had already worked multiple place, and he siblings were both older than him (and I would assume had also been in the workforce for several years) and had to hand over ever single paycheck.

        1. Miss Muffet*

          right? At some point, if you are really trying to help a kid in case there’s fraud, you’d show them what you are looking for and how to check themselves.

          1. DerJungerLudendorff*

            In fact, that’s what you would do almost immediately.
            If they’re old enough to get a paycheck, they’re old enough to at least start learning those things.

      2. Liane*

        But having your parent look over your check is not the way for either child or parent to deal with the possibility of accidental or deliberate pay errors. Since paystubs–electronic or paper–can be cryptic, if it’s the (near-) adult child’s first job, OFFERING to go over their first check *with them* to answer any questions like “What’s FICA?”* or “Why there is a Medicare deduction* at my age?” is reasonable for a parent. ” NOT insisting on seeing every check they get and reading them so you can meddle.

        *Federal deductions in the States

      3. Observer*

        Nope. There are other, better ways to deal with this. Like (as others have noted) SHOWING the kid the first time and then OFFERING to look later on. Making the kid hand over the check is not the right way to deal with it, even if the parent is actually trying to protect the kid.

    3. Richard*

      One of my friends in high school had a similar paycheck situation with his dad, but that was more because his dad would beat him up and take his money for booze. Good reminder that some things that look like helicopter parenting are actually abuse.

      1. MuseumChick*

        This is a really good point. I never got the sense that there anything outright abusive going on in the home. Just a very odd family dynamic.

        1. Richard*

          Good to hear. At some point, though, controlling the way your kids handle money into their adulthood could turn into something abusive.

      2. DerJungerLudendorff*

        I’d go out on a limb and say that all helicopter parenting becomes abuse, if it goes far enough and lasts long enough.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Good metric. The type of parenting that would be appropriate for a toddler is definitely far too restrictive for a teenager, for example.

    4. AKchic*

      oof. I only review paystubs with my teens to help them understand the calculations and to go over their hours and make sure it’s all accurate. I don’t trust fast food/retail to get “creative” (I worked those industries before, and my husband has spent 20 years in retail… I don’t play with wage theft).

      They have their own accounts as soon as they get a job, and they learn how to balance a checkbook, manage money, and budget. My oldest got a lot more restrictions, but that was because he was using his money to try to fund his drug habit (long story there, which would derail) so he was put on an “allowance” and given limited access to his own funds.

    5. CynicallySweet*

      I mean… my Dad would help me make sure my paychecks were accurate. But I was a waitress and I had to make sure I was making at least $8 an hour between the check and my tips or I was owed money. Something about the math just would not click. Eventually he just made me a spreadsheet and I could do it on my own, but there are situations where this isn’t totally unreasonable (this just doesn’t sound like one)

    6. DYS*

      I can’t imagine my parents deliberately stopping me from learning something so basic to safety like driving in inclement weather. What if the parents were injured and couldn’t drive? Mine rarely actively taught me how to do things, but I was pretty motivated and curious, so I’d hunt them down and bother them till they helped me. (Or they were still at work, and I figured it out for myself. That’s one way to avoid being a helicopter parent – work 12 hour days.) The first time that it snowed after I got my license, I took care of everything on my dad’s chore list while he finished remote work, so I could practice driving on snow and learn all his tricks. Obviously helicopter parents are hilariously awful, but something like this makes me feel incredibly lucky for the parents I had.

      1. Mairsy Doates*

        When my kids were new drivers, I was often worried about them driving during bad weather/rush hour traffic/other difficult driving conditions. I refrained from saying so to them (other than the standard “drive carefully”), because I didn’t want my anxiety to make them anxious. The only way for them to become safe drivers in difficult conditions was for them to gain experience driving in difficult conditions.

        Fortunately we all lived through it without incident, and now they have enough driving experience that I no longer worry about it. I can understand worrying about your kid learning something that has bigger consequences for mistakes, but you have to deal with your own worry about it and let them learn the thing.

    7. CDNRx*

      I had a 23-24 year old coworker with a full on professional degree who still had to turn his pay stubs over to his dad. the mind boggles.

  8. The Original K.*

    I have a family friend who works in higher ed career services and she has a lot of stories. One that stands out is the parent who called career services ten years after her son had graduated (which puts the son over 30) and yelled at the career counselor because her son didn’t have a job. The counselor was like ” … Okay? Have your son make an appointment. Have HIM call us directly.”

    1. Elitist Semicolon*

      I received an email last year from a parent I know tangentially through a different context in which she explained that her son needed advice, and would I meet with him if she told him to make an appointment? It actually contained the line, “I let my children make their own decisions.” Uh, no you don’t, lady.

      1. InfoGeek*

        So, I don’t think this is so egregious? But maybe there was tone and context….

        She knows you. Her son doesn’t. It’s up to her to approach you and ask if it’s okay to share your contact info with her son and if you’d be open to talking to him.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          That’s fair! I forgot the important context, though: I work at a university and am an advisor for the student’s major department, so her email came across less as “hey, we know each other; can you give my son professional advice?” and more “hello advisor to whom my son is assigned; if I tell him to talk to you, will you do your job?”

          Sorry about the omission!

    2. M&Ms Fix lots of Problems*

      Have also spent some time working in higher ed, yeah I’ve had a few angry parents on the phone who didn’t want to hear “no, due to FERPA I cannot tell you the grades of your 21 year old child.”
      One of these parents even showed up in person to curse me out for following the laws. When you are like this there is a reason that the child who is paying their own tuition isn’t going to tell you anything…..

      1. Brett*

        I attended a rather expensive highly competitive school (in the 1990s) where many people were only there because of their academic scholarships. It was amazing how many people were forced to drop out because their parents basically got bent out of shape about FERPA and decided to refuse to submit FAFSA data. (I ended up dropping out and losing a full ride because my father refused to submit FAFSA verification forms, though it was because he didn’t want to disclose his financial information.)

        I particularly remember one women from my first year dorm whose parents demanded that they pick her classes because they wanted her to be pre-med and she did not want to be pre-med. She was having regular panic attacks because she registered for additional classes besides pre-med classes, and her parents were fighting the registrar for access to her records (badgering her for a full FERPA release). Her parents refused to fill out a FAFSA and she was forced to transfer and move back home.

        1. Observer*

          For anyone who thinks that “helicoptering” is somehow distinct from abuse. This is a perfect example of how the two often overlap.

        2. Acornia*

          Yep, this was me in the late 80s. AND my parents didn’t give me a penny yet continued to claim me on their taxes, which meant I never got any taxes back.
          Eventually I just started claiming myself and prayed my parents would get audited because I could prove I supported myself and they couldn’t prove it.
          Sadly, that never happened. They continued to claim me as a dependent on their taxes every year until I got married! (Which is hugely sexist and gross, especially since I’d lived on my own, supporting myself for 8 years at that point!)
          The whole FAFSA thing kinda sucks, because of the assumption that parents can/will help. You can be totally estranged from your parents and their income counts against you!

        3. Blarg*

          I had to drop out for a while cause my parents simply hadn’t filed their taxes so I couldn’t do my FAFSA. I almost got married to my boyfriend at the time so I wouldn’t be a dependent anymore. Thankfully we decided I’d take the term off and work and see if they bothered to file. They did so I went back to school. The “you are a dependent until 26 unless you have a kid or get married” rule is awful.

      2. TinyRaptor*

        Also higher ed, and good lord, heli-parents do not like FERPA, but good luck getting around it! FERPA yelling is par for the course in the industry, so you become immune pretty fast.

        My favorite FERPA story: a student showed up to our office needing to fill out a FERPA release; they were being held hostage by their parents—no FERPA release meant no funding from the folks! The student was clearly angry about it, but wanted the degree, and therefore was proceeding with the release.

        We explained the form and the release process, and midway through, the student got this grinch-esque smile on their face. See, at our institution, FERPA release-ees had to correctly identify themselves, their student, and recite a verbal password or passphrase for ID verification. The password was set by the student when they submitted the release paperwork.

        Long story short, that student’s parent had to tell us something about how they’d just pooped their pants every time they called in to check on protected information. To my knowledge they never used their access…

      3. M&M’s Fix Lots of Problems*

        For those that are wondering that particular 21 year old was a military veteran (honorably medically discharged at 20) which also made him independent from his parents and not in need of FAFSA info. He joined the Marine Corps the day he turned 18 to get away from his parents. They weren’t involved at all in his school or personal life, and he was so glad that FERPA meant that we wouldn’t tell them anything.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      This surprises me not at all. I’ve had parents call for lists of alumni to set up networking opportunities for their students who were “too busy to do it.” Uh huh. Sure.

      Then there was the senior I asked whether he had an updated version of his resume. He looked confused for a moment, then replied, “I’m not sure–my mother keeps track of all my important documents and papers.”

      1. Rainy*

        I got a call last summer from a parent of a graduate student who hadn’t even started yet trying to enlist my support in making him “change his major” from one master’s program to another because she thought it was a shame he wasn’t “pursuing his art” and thus “wasting his immense talent”. First of all, she was talking to the wrong person–the program he’d been admitted to has its own career advisors, and we rarely see students from that program. Second, I know nothing about the various niceties of that program and adjacent programs in the same College, as we don’t work with those students, see above. Third, I had to explain like she’s five that in grad school you do not “switch majors” on a whim; he was admitted to a program and that was the program to which he’d been admitted. A different graduate program in a totally different College is not going to just let him switch in the week before classes start.

    4. Alexis Rose*

      I worked as a an assistant to a dean at a university for a while, and I had a parent once threaten to tell her member of parliament about how her son was being treated at the university. Um, ok lady. Politicians get involved with like, passport applications, not the fact that your adult child lied to you about when they dropped this course you’re trying to get refunded. My line with parents was always “Your child is a legal adult, I cannot discuss any aspect of their involvement at this university due to privacy concerns. If they want to call us back and delegate you to speak on their behalf, they can do that, but until then, I cannot disclose anything to you.”

      I have lots of parent stories, I felt bad for some of the kids…. no way are they being set up to succeed or make decisions on their own.

    5. M*

      Not as egregious as many here, but I used to work as a student rights advisor – basically, one of the people hired by the student union to support students at risk of being kicked out for poor academic performance. A big part of our job was accompanying students to hearings. Students were only entitled to one support person – usually us.

      I’m from a country that doesn’t have as much of a helicopter parenting issue as the US, but every now and then we’d get parents turning up with their kids and planning to go in. We had a little script for handling it (“completely understand why you want to; what preparation have you done for the hearing; OK, here’s why we don’t recommend it”), in large part because a lot of our role there was to take extremely careful notes in order to support appeals and most parents weren’t up for doing that. Usually, they’d decide to wait outside, but it was *always* the worst prepared ones who’d insist that only they could possibly support their precious child. Worst thing was, the panel members usually weren’t idiots – if a parent had insisted on attending the hearing, it was a pretty big red flag that the kid didn’t have the maturity to get their act together and complete their degree under their own steam, so it pretty sharply counted against them.

      (Of course, the worst one was the international student from a decidedly patriarchal country whose family had paid for her *brother* to fly over during the summer holidays to attend her hearing, but not *her*. Thankfully, the panel handled that one correctly (refused to meet with the brother without the actual student there, insisted on rescheduling so that they could call her and do a tele-hearing instead).)

  9. Karen from Finance*

    I haven’t seen this one personally, but it’s a story a former boss told me once.

    My then-boss was at the salon on her day off, when she was approached by some random woman who said:

    “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing that you work at Big Company Inc. I was wondering if you could help me. My son started working there recently. But he just broke up with his girlfriend so he hasn’t been going to work all week, apparently he’s supposed to have been going to some training* this week so I don’t think his boss knows yet. Can you find his boss and explain the situation to them? I’m worried he’ll get in trouble”.

    *There’s a 1-week onboarding training for all new joiners at that company, that was probably it.

    My then-boss was flabbergasted, explained to the lady that her kid was going to get in trouble but that there was nothing that she could do. She never did find out what happened, but we all assume he got fired.

    1. madge*

      I’m in academia and while this mom was way out of line, she’s probably the most polite helicopter parent I’ve heard about, ever.

      When I worked in graduate admissions, it was a weekly occurrence that a parent would call demanding that their kid have the right whatever, even though a deadline had long passed and we prided ourselves on being available and helpful since it can be a bureaucratic nightmare. We noticed a pattern that none of us had had calls or emails from international students’ parents even though we have a large international community. I’m interested to see comments from places outside the U.S. on this topic.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        Well, I’m in Latin America.

        It’s not that I can’t imagine the kind of behaviour you describe in universities, but I can only quite picture it in the most expensive, rich-people universities. Our largest universities are public, free, and academically excellent, but they’re also well-known for being underfunded and kind of chaotic. Any atttempt to make any demand there would be shouting into the void, so I don’t imagine anyone trying to pull that (or anyone listening if they do).

        1. Cami Brooks*

          This is 100% a perfect description of how university was for me. Also Latin America!

      2. Anonimous*

        There are probably many reasons to this:
        – Helicopter parents don’t let their kids go this far away from them.
        – when you are an international student, you have already been on your own figuring out all the admission document, Visa, etc, so you don’t go whinnying to mum and dad
        – language barrier

      3. Anax*

        I do wonder to what degree that’s a difference in cultures, and to what degree it’s… goodness, what good helicopter parent would ever allow their child to go SO FAR AWAY? And to such a dangerous, lawless country as the US?

        (Seriously, the non-US folks I know all kinda feel like the US is a Fallout game. I can’t blame them.)

        1. HB*

          I work in higher ed too and a colleague was just telling me yesterday about a new problem cropping up – students are applying to study abroad, get accepted, pay the fees, etc. and then decide to drop out at the last minute because they’re too stressed by even the thought of leaving. Not even getting there and changing their minds, just copping out at the last minute. Apparently it’s affecting the universities because they have these students ready to go and suddenly they’re a no show.

          1. IEanon*

            Yes, this is a problem, though I prefer that students make that call before they actually head over to the university. We’re seeing a rise in students who can’t stick out the first couple of weeks until the culture shock wears off, and that’s a much bigger headache than withdrawal before the semester starts.

          2. Tom & Johnny*

            As someone who studied abroad and insisted on doing it for a full academic year rather than a semester (and had to fight tooth and nail to do it), this upsets me. The scholarship I found to go, which I wouldn’t have been able to go without, required me to come home and evangelize about study abroad to students at my home university. Which I dutifully did and turned in my reports to the organization.

            I was typically met with vast indifference when talking up study abroad. So many students couldn’t be bothered to even imagine the idea, let alone explore actually doing it. I can confidently say I influenced exactly no one at my home university to study abroad after me.

            I don’t know if it upsets me more that most students, from what I could tell, don’t care. Or that those who do care and who actually want to do it, are not following through.

          3. Anne (with an “e”)*

            This saddens me sooo much. My sister and I both studied abroad in both undergrad and graduate school. It’s challenging the first couple of weeks, but after you become accustomed to everything it’s an invaluable experience.

            Speaking of helicopter parents though, the mother of one of my sister’s friends once contacted my mother to ask about helping her daughter prep to live abroad. (At this point my sister had graduated from undergrad and was living, studying, and working in Japan.). The mom of sis’ friend wanted to know about obtaining visas, work permits, housing, etc. The other mom also asked my mom what she had done to help my sis. My mother, who was extremely nonplussed by this call from the other mom, told her that my sis had handled every single detail on her own, that mom had no idea where to even begin about giving advice about moving to Japan. The only thing my mom had done to help my sister was drive her to the airport.

        2. AH*

          Family member works at the college and told me she had to introduce cultural sensitivity training for this very issue. They had students from India who, when dealing with an issue such as appealing a grade, would have their family show up to the appointment. To us it’s invasion of the student’s privacy, but to them it’s the family’s duty to show support.

      4. Blue Anne*

        Eh. I dunno. Not that I can speak for the entire world other than the USA, obviously, but… I’m an American and went to college in the UK, and found my college administration way too eager to speak with my family, even though they had all the restrictions about speaking only to the student and I had explicitly selected all the options to not give them any permission to talk to family. Mom is nuts. I don’t want them talking to her.

        Then I had a snafu with a semester’s tuition. I talked with my mom about it, and she (without my knowledge or permission) emailed the bursar’s office. I called in the next day to work it out, only to be told “Don’t worry, we’re talking with your father and I think we have it all taken care of.”

        My dad died when I was in high school. They had not only talked with my mom when they weren’t supposed to, but assumed that an email from Dr. Blue must be from a man.

        Looking at you, University of Edinburgh.

        1. DYS*

          The only time I knew of a friend’s parent stepping in on their kid’s college issues was when one roommate I knew had been getting the run-around from the registrar, bursar and grant office for months. They’d screwed up something and her aid package hadn’t come through correctly, so she was penniless from August till March. Couldn’t pay rent, couldn’t pay tuition (they still let her go to class and register since her case was “pending” I think), and she kept getting hassled for not paying tuition by the same people who were the reason she couldn’t pay tuition. Eventually her dad emailed the president of the college directly, the president arranged a sit-down meeting with all parties and it was resolved in a week. But this was after he’d let her manage it on her own (with advice from him but nothing else) for almost the whole year.

      5. IEanon*

        We get a few emails/calls from international students’ families, but they usually have questions about visas, customs procedures and US health insurance issues. Those are all under the umbrella of topics we can discuss without getting into FERPA (since it’s mostly sharing and demystifying Dept. of State info), and very understandable.

        My experience is that the international students are MUCH more independent upon arrival, though some of that has to do with the fact that self-reliant individuals are more likely to opt into studying outside their home country.

      6. AH*

        The assistant dean at my university told me that she’s had to field phone calls from parents demanding to know why they haven’t received invitations to their children’s graduation ceremonies, and the truth is their children dropped out of school and didn’t tell the parents, but privacy policy meant she couldn’t tell them…

      7. DYS*

        I have a friend who’s a high school teacher. Most of her kids are okay (it’s a rich school district) but there was one kid with a registered medical issue who’s had CPS called for him multiple times because his parents enable and encourage him to duck out of as much work as possible. (They also do nothing to manage his medical issue. Physical as well as mental abuse, yay!) This was among the first helicopter parents my friend encountered, and it was probably the worst she’s seen. He would be out for weeks for medical issues (due to not managing it correctly) then come back and ignore the extended deadlines for his work. Or he couldn’t come to school but could do work from home, which meant the school considered him fit to do work, and not do the work even with all the materials provided and access to email for questions. His parents bullied, cajoled and threatened to get him through high school, but eventually the school drew a line in the sand, and I don’t know whether he graduated on time. Kid was either gonna die early of unmanaged medical issues, suffer enough damage that he couldn’t be physically independent, or live the rest of his life in his parents’ house.

      8. Jasnah*

        I think there is a big big difference between helicopter parenting of international students studying in the US, and helicopter parenting of young adults in their own countries.

        Would you call or email your kid’s study abroad school in Korea for anything less than a dire emergency?

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      OMG, this is gold. That mom just spilling her son’s stuff all over a stranger/maybe colleague like that!

      Also my kneejerk reaction to the idea of just calling off work for a week because you broke up with a GF/BF, yikes on so many levels.

      1. misplacedmidwesterner*

        I have called off because of a really bad breakup. BUT I had been at the job several years for that point. I actually called my boss and said “I can’t come in today”; I didn’t just not show up. And I only did it for one day. (Beyond that I had a stellar record of attendance and employment.) One day of me crying in bed (actually it was 3, because it was friday off and then the weekend) was acceptable.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Yeah I think your case is more justified, it’s like taking a mental health day off. I can understand that.

          This guy just stopped showing up and hoped no one would notice. Like, dude.

        2. Ginger ale for all*

          I called out because my fiance broke up with me a few days before the wedding. We worked together and I needed some time before I could be in the same room as him.

      2. Electric Pangolin*

        A friend stopped showing up to work for *a year* after a bad breakup. Clinical depression can be like that sometimes. He was previously a valued enough employee that they even took him back when he showed up again after his savings ran out!

  10. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I’m a trainer. Quite a few (probably 10+) years ago, before I even heard of a Helicopter Parent, I was running an induction session for an IT company, and one of the guys turned up with his mother, who expected to be able to sit in the classroom all day next to her son.

    I told her there was company-confidential information contained in the induction course (which was true!) and that she had to leave. She was NOT happy, and reported me to the HR department. Her son did not pass his induction.

    1. Observer*

      I think that if I were HR, Mom’s complaint would lead to a SERIOUS conversation with Junior. And, if Junior were not totally apologetic and willing to commit to keeping Mom out, that would be the end of his position.

    2. Taylor Swift*

      The term helicopter parent has definitely been around for more than ten years.

      1. Acornia*

        Yes, but she says she hadn’t heard it at that point, not that it didn’t exist.

  11. Jennifer*

    Nothing too serious in my case. I live in the south where everyone freaks out at even the hint of snow. When I was younger, anytime snow was forecasted, all of us on the team would get a call from our moms telling us to go home. We would guess whose mom would call first and the most often.

    She still checks to be sure I’ve left work when it’s going to snow, but she texts now.

    1. Landshark*

      At least that one is kind of cute–hell, my dad’s been known to notice a huge storm near my commute over the summer and shoot me a text to just remind me to be safe.

      1. Essess*

        I’m 50 years old, and my mother will still send me emails or texts about storms heading my way. I’ve given up trying to tell her that I get weather forecasts in my state too.

        1. AKchic*

          I live in Alaska (2nd generation born and raised). My grandma has lived here since 1960. For some reason, ever since she became homebound, anytime she hears the word “snow” in the weather forecast (she watches tv ALL day), she calls me and my mother and demands that we “stay home, just in case, to be safe”… even if the forecast called for snow in New York and not Anchorage, Alaska.
          My former MIL in New Jersey at least will warn me of weather patterns she’s heard in my own state. “I heard about a snowstorm in some area called Bath-al. You be careful!” *sigh* It’s Bethel, and nowhere near Anchorage. It’s like her worrying about a rainstorm in the Midwest actually affecting her right then and there. Appreciate the sentiment, but chill? We can keep track of our own weather?

        2. Alli525*

          You should beat her to the punch next time and send her screenshots of your weather-app notifications. Do this enough times (especially if you live in one of the areas in the U.S. that have been having odder-than-usual spring weather) and maybe she’ll get the hint!

      2. Jadelyn*

        My mom leaves her work before I leave mine most days, and she listens to the local traffic radio stations on her commute, so she’ll sometimes call me ten minutes before I leave to let me know to avoid a particular freeway. There was one time the backup was so bad – a whole direction on one of the two freeways most people use to get to our location was shut down completely and estimated to remain that way for several hours still – I thanked her for the heads-up and then passed it along to folks at my branch so that others who commuted that way could also avoid it.

        1. TheRedCoat*

          That makes me miss the days when I had the same commute as my mom, offset by a half hour. I’d call her on the way into work and warn her about traffic/speed traps, and she’d call me on her way home for the same thing.

        2. Drew*

          My dad has never figured out that my sibling and I have GPS and don’t need step-by-step directions. Real and only slightly paraphrased recent conversation:

          Dad: “We’re meeting for dinner at Well-Known Local Restaurant. From your house, you’ll have to–”
          Drew: “Just give me the address and I’ll get there.”
          Dad: “There are some tricky turns. The first one is…”

          And that’s when I stopped listening, because I’d already pulled up the restaurant’s address, typed it into Waze and found that his very first turn was a bad idea because of a wreck on that street. I just “uh-huh”ed a lot until the call was over.

          Reader, I was waiting for 20 minutes because my Dad was stuck behind that wreck.

        3. M&Ms Fix lots of Problems*

          Honestly I’ve done that before at a prior job – warned others I knew traveled the same way that there was a big traffic snarls either plan to hang out a bit or pick a different route.
          I think there’s a difference between warning people about traffic along their route and calling with questions from another state about a weather pattern they heard about on tv.

          1. Shoes On My Cat*

            At Old Job, there were only 3 ways to get in from the main metro area/affordable housing, all at least 30 minutes…and all two lane highways with curves and mini mountains. If anyone got stuck in a traffic snarl, it became customary to call the company security office, who in turn would send a mass email so managers got a heads up that expected shift workers would be late and HR also had a record in case of anyone getting penalized for tardiness they had no control over. Some of these delays would last three hours!

      3. annalisakarenina*

        My parents do this too: My sisters and I are older and scattered now, but they track the weather wherever we’re living and check in when it’s supposed to get ugly.

    2. Clisby*

      Ha! I was wondering if the parents who wouldn’t let the kid drive to work in case of snow was from the South. Although, Museum Chick’s post didn’t sound like snow was a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of thing.

      1. Shoes On My Cat*

        My Dad is from the central Midwest and my family now lives central west coast. He calls and lectures me on safe driving when a heavy rain storm is predicted, ie my tires, go slow, how to handle wet roads. The whole shebang. I tune him out now because there are only so many times I’m willing to cut him Parent Slack after reminding him that I used to OFF-ROAD IN MONTANTA DURING THE WINTER FOR WORK REASONS-Mostly in two wheel drive (rear) Because challenge. I also learned to navigate off-road with a 15 passenger van without 4×4, including crossing small creeks and a swampy area. And I grew up navigating in a metro area on urban roads. Dad, you did a good job teaching me skillz, let’s talk about your new hobby!! He was too busy when I was young to helicopter but now that he’s retired…Oi!

        1. AKchic*

          Retired boys are the worst. They can be lovely when we think back on them fondly, but in the moment, they can be the worst to deal with because they can be so overbearing and boundary stomping and have “The Best Intentions” while still devaluing your own experiences and expertise because they think you are still their (grand)Child.

          I miss my grandfather, but at the same time… I do not miss my grandfather. Love that man to pieces, but he had his Opinions and his Notions and there was no dissuading him once he was set on Helping. Even when I didn’t ask (and I rarely ever did).

    3. Lynca*

      I think that’s a requirement for being a mom in the South. Mine does the same.

      But I understand the reasoning. I did get caught up in an infamous ice storm and it took 12 hours to make a 1 hour trip home. Unfortunately for me I ended up crashing my car 5 miles from home. Better than a few people at my office who had to sleep in their cars on the interstate.

    4. Pilcrow*

      I’m in my mid-40s and my mom does that, too! I live in an neighboring state*, but she watches the Weather Channel… My suburb is at a major highway intersection and it sometimes gets mentioned by name. It’s gotten a little better now that I can work from home during snow storms.

      *We’re less than 200 miles apart so our weather is similar. What happens in my area usually shows up in her area a few hours later.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Sounds kinda like my mom, I live in the Chicago suburbs and she lives in northern Indiana.

    5. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Haha I’m 37 and my mom still calls or texts warning me about driving in the snow/ice.

    6. Kitryan*

      My dad does check in when there’s bad weather- I appreciate it since I don’t listened the radio or watch broadcast tv I’m not in tune w/that.
      However, at one point I actually semi regularly called my dad for weather info on behalf of my boss. The big boss at the law firm I was receptionist at lived in the suburbs about 15 min from my parents. The streets in that area could be very different in snowy weather than the main roads. My boss would ask how the roads were and I’d text or call Dad for the man on the ground scoop and then big boss could make a judgement call on whether he should drive home or stay in the city.
      A bit odd but it worked.

    7. Anne (with an “e”)*

      When my uncle retired he used to drive around his small city in North Carolina and then call my cousins to give them detailed reports about road conditions including pot holes, road construction, etc. He would then advise his adult daughters on which routes to take/avoid that day.

    8. CoolInTheShade*

      My grandfather used to “call the kids home” when the weather started getting bad (all of his children and grandchildren lived on the same plot of land). I even used the line “because you don’t want to hear from my papa!” jokingly when my boss asked why I was so insistent to leave early on Christmas Eve when it was about to start icing. (The boss ended up not letting me go home early, and I celebrated Christmas Eve huddled in my car’s backseat in the gas station parking lot I got stuck in when the ice came. But my grandfather was a wise man who knew that I was an adult who had to make my own mistakes and learn to stand up for myself to my boss).

      The first time the weather got bad after my grandfather passed, I was heartbroken not to get a stern text ordering me to get back home.

  12. Associate Witness*

    I have a bunch of examples where the coworker was the helicopter parent. They mostly involved partners demanding that associates review the partners’ kids admissions materials, including to “punch up” an essay with jokes.

  13. RKMK*

    I worked at a university so, ahem, a tonne. The most egregious was working in MBA Admissions and having an applicant’s mom calling, a couple times, to check whether the materials were all in. It’s bad enough when parents try to get involved at the undergraduate level (like, legally, we’re not allowed to deal with you, your child is an adult and has legal privacy protections) but if your parents are still involved in a graduate program application, nope, instant red flags. The kid (we immediately all considered him a “kid”, because his mom called in) didn’t make it to the interview stage.

    1. Magenta*

      Was this because he didn’t meet the standard or because of his mother’s behaviour? He can’t help it if his mum is a nutter!

      1. Jennifer*

        He can’t, but I understand not admitting him because of his mom’s over the top behavior. It sucks for him but who wants to deal with that?

      2. Allison*

        That’s true, it’s an unfortunate situation, but if the applicant with a helicopter parent gets admitted to your school or hired for a job at your company, you now have a student or employee with a helicopter parent who might continue to cause problems. Once the parent gets involved in the application process you have to figure they’re a package deal, and decide if you want this meddlesome person to keep calling about their kid’s problems.

        1. The Original K.*

          Right – I can absolutely understand not wanting to sign up for years of dealing with this parent, because that’s what you’d be doing. If the parent is like this at the application stage, odds are great they’re not going to be like “Whew, my adult child is in, I can back off now.” This is the parent who calls HR to sign up for benefits or emails professors on their adult child’s behalf to dispute their grades.

        2. MsM*

          Also, for an MBA program in particular, it’s not a great sign of leadership potential if he hasn’t figured out how to manage Mom yet.

          1. RKMK*

            Also, as I said in another comment – other comms we had with him indicated he’d encouraged her, i.e. “Hi, I asked my mom call in earlier and she said that you wouldn’t speak to her directly?”

            1. Shoes On My Cat*

              Yikes!!! You did him a favor-just by indicating that his mom was separate from his profession. Hopefully that little seed will sprout into a sturdy forest of oak trees!

          2. Not Mommy Dearest*

            Also, for an MBA program in particular, it’s not a great sign of leadership potential if he hasn’t figured out how to manage Mom yet.

            This is an incredibly unkind — and frankly ignorant — comment. You assume, for example, that mentally ill or toxic parents can be successfully “managed.” Almost to a T, they cannot, short of going no contact. And while I sympathize and endorse going “no contact” with toxic people, I also don’t think it should be a requirement.

            I have a joint JD/MBA from a Top-10 program. My mother is mentally ill. She has harassed my bosses (at very prestigious employers) because she objected to the countries they would send me to on business trips. She has harassed work colleagues. I’m at the point I have to proactively warn employers about her. I’ve tried not telling her where I work, but that’s difficult in an age of LinkedIn. I’ve tried “very little contact,” which causes her to start calling the police in my city (she lives far away) to request welfare checks. Various relatives tell me that it would be “cold” to go no contact with her.

            Since you’re so wise, I’d appreciate your sagacious advice about how I’m supposed to “manage Mom” in a situation like this.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              Witness Protection? /s

              Yes, that was sarcasm, but it almost seems that only a legal name change and another move would get her out of trying to run your life. You have my sympathies.

            2. Susana*

              That sounds awful – so sorry you had to deal with that.
              In this case, however, MBA candidate was clearly encouraging his mother to call. And that’s not acceptable.

            3. Sue*

              Tell her if she does it again, she won’t hear or see from you for 3 months, 6 months, whatever, and stick to it. Do that every time. I’m glad your jobs have not given you a hard time about it, but she could end up losing you a job, and if you have kids & a mortgage to pay, that’s no joke.

            4. P peace*

              To get help. Why would an adult take on the abuse that you won’t manage. Its abuse to them also. As is said on this site many times you aren’t owed a job. People get on disability for mental problems. Abuse affects mental health. That isn’t said harshly but maybe it should be. The difference in helicoptering from another type of abuse is at least it’s indirectness. Who would tell a woman dating someone whose parents mistreated or judged her to go after his parents? No one. You’d tell her to let the partner go.

            5. Verdant Hectares*

              Sounds like you’re going to have to do the same thing my husband did with his mom, or I did with my dad. Go off-grid as much as possible, delete your social media accounts or just don’t use them anymore, scrub your personal information from the web, change your number, etc. and then inform her that you will check in once a week, but other than that, she needs to leave you alone. No talking to your friends, your work, your boy/girlfriend, whatever. Do your check-ins in person or via an email you only use for family. Do not give her anything else. No other contact info. Not for her, and not for anyone else who might give it to her.
              Let the receptionist at your work know that you’re having problems with a stalker, and that they cannot confirm your employment to anyone, nor should they pass through anyone who isn’t a known client (or whatever their policy is for handling this sort of thing) not even if the caller claims to be your mother. Have a similar conversation with your boss.
              If she tries to interfere after that, you call her on it, tell her flat-out that her behavior was unacceptable, and because of her actions, you are no longer going to enable her. And then you cut contact.
              This will be hard. Other people who have been enabling her are going to try to guilt trip you into coming back. They will try to sweet talk you, and when that doesn’t work, they will get angry. They will say mean things. They won’t understand why you’re doing this. Deep down, they will be jealous that you got out, and that jealously will only fuel their need to pull you back in. If they have to suffer, why shouldn’t you?
              I am sorry you’re in this position, but that’s the only way out.

      3. Hills to Die on*

        No. He needs to cut the apron strings, tell his mom to back off, and if necessary, not give her any information about what he’s up to. It is his responsibility to remove this nonsense from his life.

        1. RKMK*

          For more context, it also wasn’t the type of MBA program that people are encouraged to apply to right out of undergraduate – it was designed for people with preferably 4-5 years of work experience. The average age leaned more 28-30, so a 22 year old having his mom call in to check on his materials went over extra bad.

      4. RKMK*

        Communication with him made it apparent he’d enlisted her to make the call, and it made us look at the rest of his package a little harder. Where we might have given benefit of the doubt in resume fluffing to proceed to the next stage, we decided to move forward with other borderline applicants instead.

        1. LitJess*

          That’s helpful context. Sometimes I wonder in these helicopter parent situations how much the kid is aware of what’s going on. It sucks to see someone punished for their parents’ lack of boundaries, but that wasn’t the case here.

          1. Sue*

            Some just don’t realize that their parent isn’t normal until they get to college & compare.

    2. Mel*

      A cousin of mine is in admissions for an honors program at a large university. Her parent stories are wild.

    3. Sister Sue*

      This! I have no problem with students bring parents or spouses when they are gathering information and need a second set of ears to hear everything while they are learning about a program. It’s a big decision and a lot of information. But I once had a graduate student try to bring their mom to orientation. This is the equivalent of your mom taking your first night of class with you. Red flag, red flag, red flag!

      1. Prof*

        We recently had a PHD APPLICANT who brought his mom to his interviews with the faculty. All of us were flabbergasted.

  14. NoHelos*

    I work in a doctoral program for a healthcare field. I have heard of parents calling the Associate Dean of the school to about their child’s grades. I have personally dealt with parents calling in about their child’s required immunization documentation. Mind you, all students have already completed 3-4 years of college before being admitted to this program and they will exit with a doctoral degree.

    A friend works in the College of Liberal Arts and when his Dean was addressing a group of parents he reminded them that their children would be picking out their nursing homes so they (the parents) better make sure they’re capable of such decisions. Apparently there was much nervous laughter.

      1. JustaTech*

        I had a high school teacher use that (“You’ll pick their nursing home”) to calm down my hysterical classmate whose parents had just informed her (in April, long after college submissions were in) that they would not be paying for her college at all.

        I always wonder if that relationship ever got repaired?

    1. ursula*

      In the mid-2000s, a friend of mine who is an academic had to report one of their undergraduate students for blatant, foolishly obvious plagiarism. It was not an edge case – this was ridiculously bold-ass copy and pasting. In a disciplinary meeting, the kid’s parents show up. After the Dean explained what happened, to much resistance from the parents, the Dad says ruefully, “I just thought, after 9-11, that we could all come together.”

      1. fposte*

        That is wonderfully bizarre. You’re right, Dad, the takeaway from 9/11 was that cheating is okay now.

      2. Jadelyn*

        I literally just made that Leonardo DiCaprio squinting face meme expression when I read that. Wha???

      3. Krista*

        My mother, who teaches at a university, once gave a student a C on an essay. The student’s father called to complain about the grade, and could not resist explaining to her that his area of expertise was the subject-matter of the essay, and he (the dad) had written the essay himself, and so he knew that it was an A essay, not a C essay. My mom responded “now it’s an F essay.”

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Calling in about the immunization documentation seems…vaguely reasonable. I know my mom was The Keeper of the File Cabinet of Childhood Records until I was done living in various student housing and rentals in college and grad school since I was traveling pretty light in those housing situations, so I think I called her to have her fax my immunization records places as needed, since those were with all of the other kid record stuff at her house, plus she had a fax machine and I did not. Since I got the immunizations themselves when I was a little kid, it was definitely mom in charge of the records at the time (I think she actually kept them recorded with/in my Baby Book since it had a place for them).

      If my grad program had wanted my 5th grade report card I probably would have had to ask mom to fax that too, but since all they wanted was undergrad transcripts I ordered those just fine on my own.

      1. pentamom*

        I was thinking this, too. I’m the keeper of all the permanent important records for all my kids who are living in non-permanent housing (college, military, and in one case employer-provided housing.) When things like this come up I scan and send them to the kid who then turns them in, but I don’t think the parent directly providing the info is THAT much worse if the parent is essentially the kid’s records management service.

        1. nonegiven*

          I handed over the original vaccination record when he went away to college. I told him it was on him, now.

        2. Shoes On My Cat*

          Having been the kid appreciating my mom’s willingness to be Keeper of Important Documents until I had a settled housing situation-into my late thirties due to a career requiring lots of moves and moving light, I totally agree! The key is however, that the request for information is made to a person, person turns to Information Holder and requests said information to be forwarded. Parent never directly communicates with business/higher ed.

      2. RandoPerson*

        I’m late 20s and my mom still has my immunization records, birth certificate, social security card, etc in her safe. I have a passport so I have everything I need for work (i-9) and I’d rather stuff was kept separate aside from her living in more permanent housing from me. Difference is I call her when I need the stuff and fill out forms myself. If I needed a scan then I’d get her to scan it and email it to me, then I’d send it in myself. I understand the days of faxing were likely a bit different.

    3. Allornone*

      I’ve seen that happen too! I worked in the Graduate School Main Office while I was an undergrad at my university. I didn’t have to deal with her, but some mom was FURIOUS at some hiccup regarding her son’s dissertation defense. That’s right, she called for her son- a GRADUATE student at a well-respected university, who was close enough to graduation to have completed his dissertation, yet seemingly unable to deal with a common situation himself. Weird.

    4. blackcat*

      To be fair, my mom talked to my university health center about my immunization when I was starting my PhD, and it wasn’t being a helicopter parent. I was being told I couldn’t sign up for classes without documentation of the chickenpox vaccine… which I never got. I did, however, get the chickenpox in 1990. The health center wouldn’t accept my word about it (fair–I was a toddler at the time), but they did accept my mom signing a sworn statement. Initially they wanted medical documentation for me having the chickenpox, which would have been hard considering my mom never took me to the doctor (why? to infect other people in the waiting room?) and also my childhood pediatrician died in 2000 and we have no idea where the records went (but immunization records are kept by schools).
      They seemed so skeptical when I tried to explain why I wasn’t vaccinated, but they were totally happy to discuss the matter with my mom. Apparently they don’t care much about either FERPA or HIPPA?

      1. Grace*

        Wouldn’t a blood test showing you had antibodies to the vericella virus have been sufficient and FERPA/HIPPA compliant proof?

        1. M&M’s Fix Lots of Problems*

          Sometimes you won’t get a positive result for antibodies if you only had a really mild case. That’s why many places go with signed proof of the disease first.

  15. Cambridge Comma*

    I can’t be on LinkedIn because in the past my mother has copy and pasted my work history and applied for jobs that I don’t know about. Usually ones that I wouldn’t be qualified for (wrong field) but at employers I would have liked to work for. It’s very misguided helicopter parenting.

      1. WorkIsADarkComedy*

        Such serious boundary issues there. You have my sympathy.

        I would imagine this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to see some useful advice about dealing with these types of issues, you could visit http://www.captainawkward.com .

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      You can block people on LinkedIn and ensure only those who are logged in can see your work history. I had to block a parent for different reasons before.

    2. Clisby*

      Good lord. You’re definitely in the running for most bizarre helicopter parenting story.

    3. General Ginger*

      Whoa. That’s not OK, and I’m sorry that’s something you’re dealing with.

    4. CoveredInBees*

      And this nonsense is why I try to give the “child” some benefit of the doubt where it is at least possible that they didn’t know what was happening.

    5. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      I feel your pain–that’s really extreme. I actually had to block my mother on LinkedIn because every time she got on the phone, she’d go all shriek-harpy on me telling me to change my profile picture because it was skanky and completely work-inappropriate, then say in the same breath, to get professional photos done like your cousin Agatha Cristie, CEO of an electric finance firm. Then I’d say I couldn’t afford it, then she’d say you should’ve become a doctor and that you’re not making enough money. Then I had to block my dad because he’d tell her everything he saw on LinkedIn and be her bottom-feeder spy. Not a great look.

      1. AMT*

        I just realized my mom does this, too. Like, not the skanky thing—she just tells me I look high. Like, in *every* picture I post on any social media platform. I’m starting to recognize her in a lot of these posts. Good thing I’ve learned to shut it down.

    6. Yvette*

      I swear there was a letter here or comment in the past here like this. Was it you?

      1. Doctor Schmoctor*

        I remember a letter from somebody whose mother created a Twitter account in her daughter’s name, and then she used it to “network” on her behalf.

    7. AKchic*

      I have stalker issues with an ex-husband, and had to be very careful about what I put on my LinkedIn profile too. Nothing current. No real contact information, no face images, leaving off a few jobs that he knew about and could easily track.

      Now I don’t even bother with LinkedIn.

  16. DoctorateStrange*

    At the library, I have mothers all the time coming in to find all the job-seeking resources we have. Which isn’t an issue, except it is always their sons sending them there while they stay at home. The mothers always spending 3+ hours looking for everything. One mother even cheerfully told me that her son was relaxing at home while she did this. These women were usually in their fifties and up, so it’s more likely that some of these sons were 20 and up.

    1. Karen from Finance*

      Are you sure that the sons are actually sending them, though? Maybe that’s the way they are perceiving it, but their kids are either job hunting online or not job hunting at all, and they’re taking it upon themselves.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        A couple of them did introduce themselves by saying their sons sent them over. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were also taking it upon themselves.

        1. TootsNYC*

          and some of those people who take it on themselves might frame it, especially to others, as “my son sent me.” Because then they look like a designated agent (I have been that for my child, once when she needed to find a surgeon in a hurry AND study for finals AND wrap up everything at the end of the school year), and not a buttinski.

        2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          I can imagine there was at least one case of the son thinking that this was a good way to get mom out of his hair!

          1. Karen from Finance*

            Yeah, I can imagine doing something like this if I was in this situation!

          2. Beth*

            This was my thought! My mom is good about this stuff, but I’ve been in the position of needing to find something to occupy my dad just so he’ll butt out and let me do my thing…

          3. drpuma*

            I can imagine there was at least one case of the mom thinking that this was a good way to get her son out of her hair!

          4. M&M’s Fix Lots of Problems*

            I will admit to having done this once (female) to my mom who was being a buttinski. I was applying to everything I was qualified for but wasn’t getting a lot of callbacks. It was also right after college graduation, and there were tons of other people doing the same thing. I found a job after seven weeks of looking but my mom started driving me nuts and getting on my case after the second week of active hunting. She just needed some channeling to keep her from hurting my job hunt.

      2. Blue*

        Yeah, this could go either way! Even if the kids were sending them, I could definitely see this as a low-risk way to channel an overbearing parent’s focus. Like, you insist on being involved in my job search? Ok, here’s a thing you can do that won’t reflect poorly on me to employers. Probably not the most likely scenario, but it could easily happen.

        1. DoctorateStrange*

          Honestly, I can see that. The mothers were usually nice but they were always so persistent on so many little things.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I can imagine that. It took my dad a long time to learn that “pounding the pavement” and popping in to local businesses to ask for a job doesn’t really work anymore, at least not when you’re a 40-something with a PhD. If I still lived in the same city I could see him trying to find opportunities for me even though he badly misunderstands the nature of my industry.

      3. AKchic*

        Sons: “Mom, that’s not how job hunting works nowadays, but if you want to waste your time at the library, go right ahead!”
        Mothers: “So, my son sent me down here while he’s at home relaxing and playing on the internet today…”

        (yeah, that’s how my grandma would categorize it too)

  17. JokeyJules*

    oh, also

    Every few months a man calls to see if we have any jobs open for his son, who he says is the most brilliant engineer in the world. I’m honest if we do, though no positions at this company require engineering. I always tell the dad this, but he insists that his son is so smart that he will do excellent at any job and tries to give me his email so i can send him (the dad) an offer letter for a position so that he (the dad) can approve it for his son.
    I’ve told the dad a few times that it would be absolutely better for the son to be applying for his own jobs, but the dad insists that the son is too busy to apply for jobs so the dad will get the perfect one for him. apparently regardless of whether it is something the son wants to do or is qualified to do.

    1. EPLawyer*

      So you’re supposed to just offer the job to the guy based on dad’s word? What happens if you do send an offer and Dad decides its not good enough?

    2. Anonya*

      Whoa, is dad is cray. I seriously don’t understand how any functional adult believes this is a good idea. In these cases, I feel sorry for the adult child.

      1. JokeyJules*

        the caller ID name, speaking accent, and sounding age of the dad made me think that either this might have been a cultural norm for him for most (or the beginning) of his working life, and nobody ever told him that it’s different now and in my country.

    3. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

      “Most brilliant engineer in the world?” 1) I can’t imagine anyone older than 7 saying this with an ounce of sincerity. 2) Then it’s all the more concerning he’s unemployed, unless of course the reason he’s “too busy” is because he’s on the verge of some incredibly engineering breakthrough he’s accomplishing on his own time, but I wouldn’t bet any money on it.

      1. JokeyJules*

        there were a few times i wanted to be like “look, if he is the most brilliant engineer in the world then he can engineer himself a job”. But i doubt that would have helped anyone. so i politely refer him to our website and remind him that his son should be the one calling.

      2. Jessen*

        Assuming he is in fact unemployed. We’ve seen a few stories here where the adult child is quite contentedly employed, but in a position that the parent thinks isn’t good enough.

        1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

          Very true, I didn’t think of that immediately, particularly with how desperate Dad is making the son sound. In that case, then he certainly was busy for a good reason and all the more reason for Dad to back the hell off.

          1. Jessen*

            I frequently tell my mother I’m “too busy” when it really means “picking all the cat fur out of the carpet by hand would be a better use of my time than dealing with you right now.” I speak excuse quite well by now.

      3. nonegiven*

        It sounded to me like the son was busy because he already has an engineering job that he likes, it’s just not good enough for dad. Maybe the place he works is too far away, it’s a company dad never heard of, the son uses it as an excuse to say he’s too busy to do something else dad wants him to do. Not necessarily unemployed.

    4. HQB*

      Is there some reason you don’t say something like “We can only discuss employment with actual applicants, so if your son is interested he will need to contact us himself.”? Repeat as necessary: “As I said, this is something we can only discuss with applicants.”

    5. AKchic*

      “Sir, if he is too busy to apply for himself, we are unable to discuss any potential jobs. You need to stop calling on his behalf. Thank you.”

    6. Pomona Sprout*

      Uh, Dad? That’s not how this works! That’s nit how ANY of this works! LOL *facepalm*

  18. Fulano de Tal*

    A few years back, I frequently interviewed applicants for Air Force officer training school. They were all college graduates with at least a master’s degree. Each was applying to be a military officer with the responsibility that comes with that. I was shocked by the number of parents who wanted to sit in on the interview.

    One was quite insistent, claiming that she was there “just to help.” I explained to her that it would be inappropriate for her to sit in because I’d be discussing sensitive issues with the applicant (questions about medical, drug use, and arrest histories). “THERE’S NOTHING MY CHILD IS GOING TO TELL YOU THAT I DON’T ALREADY KNOW,” she exclaimed. I don’t know what shocked me more, her yelling at me or the fact that she referred to a 27 year-old as “my child.”

    1. Observer*

      Maybe you should tell these parents that if their child needs “help” with an interview, that’s a proof that they are not qualified for the position.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t know what shocked me more, her yelling at me or the fact that she referred to a 27 year-old as “my child.”

      The most shocking thing to me is that she thought the only reason she shouldn’t sit in on her son’s interview for Air Force officer freaking training school would be because she might accidentally overhear one of his secrets.

      1. AL*

        Son or daughter? Recognise the familial relationship bur don’t refer to an adult as a child…..

      2. Rosaline Montague*

        For adults, I would say by their name. At least that’s what I do for my teenagers.

  19. Catsaber*

    We were talking about this yesterday in a meeting I had with several other managers at the university I work at. Because it’s a big school, we’re used to seeing some helicopter parenting for incoming freshman, or people around the 18-19 age range….which is kind of understandable for someone who is a brand-new adult.

    But it’s worse when it’s the seniors! They were describing cases of students who were aged mid-to-late 20s with parents making their phone calls, coming to classes, and actually doing their coursework! College admissions scandal, anyone?

    Anyway, the worst I ever experienced was a father who called for technical support for his daughter. She needed some help with submitting an assignment for an online class, or something like that. I got that phone call, and kept asking to speak to the daughter directly. The father kept on saying, “Oh no, she doens’t like to talk on the phone…” and he would just yell my questions to her, and I could hear her yell her responses back to him, and then he’d repeat what she said. It was maddening. We never got her issue solved.

    1. SeluciaMD*

      Oh HELL no. You were so patient to go through all that rigamarole with that father. I’d have been tempted to say “She may not like the phone but that’s the only way she’s getting help. YOU are not a student. I’ll help her directly but I can’t talk to you any longer. Tell her to call back when she’s ready.”

      I can’t even. What the hell is wrong with people? I’m amazed the dad didn’t tell her to get over her phone issue or be prepared to fail her assignment.

  20. Pink Marshmallow Bunny*

    I know this is not the worst story of helicopter parenting, but here’s a personal story of mine. Despite having an excellent driving record, my mother has always been weird about me driving anywhere, even as an adult.

    Eight years ago when I was 29, I was interviewing for the job I’m currently working at now. I had been living in NJ at the time and the job was in PA, 30 minutes away from my childhood home where my parents still live. I had driven down from NJ the night before and stayed overnight at my parents’ house to make getting to the interview easier the next morning.

    Despite the office being in an extremely safe and easy-to-get-to area, my mother kept trying to INSIST on driving me to the interview and staying there until it was finished.

    “But I’ll just wait in the car!”
    “Mom, that’s not appropriate.”

    “But I’ll take you to lunch afterward!”
    “You can take me to lunch after I drive back to your house after the interview.”

    “But nobody will see me there! I’ll just be in the car!”
    “It’s JUST NOT PROFESSIONAL.”

    “You’re being really stupid!”
    *sigh*

    I eventually told her about how I read that interviewers like to walk candidates back out to their cars after interviews to check and see if the car looked neat/tidy, in order to get a sense of how the candidate operates. And that if my interviewer did that and found my mother sitting in the car, there’s no way I’d get hired despite being very qualified, because that sort of thing makes a candidate look really immature.

    I got my way, but she pouted like a child for hours. And more importantly, I got the job (and drove myself to the interview and back without incident).

    1. Kelly L.*

      As an aside, I had no idea interviewers did that, and I find it super invasive and skeevy! It sounds like they’re likely to judge the prestige of people’s cars or to judge them if they take public transport, on top of judging the cleanliness or whatever they’re supposed to really be doing.

      1. Landshark*

        In my experience, I’ve seen this used as a cautionary tale a lot about caring for ALL aspects of your appearance, but I personally have never seen it happen. I’m sure it does in some cases, but I can’t imagine it’s super common.

      2. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        I read that as a white lie to get mom off Pink Marshmallow Bunny’s back…

      3. Kathleen_A*

        I’ve never heard of this either – and I hope it’s not true (partly because of the intrusiveness factor but also because it seems like a wildly ineffective tactic to me) – but I’m glad it was enough to convince Pink Marshmallow Bunny’s mom.

      4. Observer*

        I’m with the others – it sounds like a tactic to get Mom off her back.

        Let’s face it, if my kid told me that I would point out that it’s a HUGE red flag, and they would think a moment and agree with that. *BUT* they would never tell me that to keep me or my husband from driving them to an interview! The kind of person who thinks this kind of thing is appropriate would not realize how invasive it would be for a boss to inspect a candidate’s car.

        1. Pink Marshmallow Bunny*

          I had actually read about this being used as a tactic by interviewers for some types of jobs, although I had never personally witnessed this or ever had it happen to me. I agree it’s creepy and invasive. That being said, it was a very convenient thing to be able to tell my mother in an attempt to get her to back off. And it worked!

          I’m also pleased to report that the interviewer did not walk me out to my car, or anything weird like that. :)

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            IMO, if an interviewer was going to judge me on the age, condition, cleanliness or brand of my car, I would rather they just tell me so I can nope out of the interview.

            My car is old, cheap, needs a bath, and is our only car. I don’t consider it a show piece, or spend a lot of time and money on its appearance.

            If I need to do so to fit in at their company, I’m definitely not a fit for the job.

          2. Boomerang Girl*

            Maybe they do it for sales jobs for which a person would be driving his/her own car to client businesses.

      5. iglwif*

        I have never heard of an interviewer doing that (it certainly would not fly in my city, where MANY MANY people do not drive to work because parking is horrific) but I would 100% make something like that up to prevent a parent from sitting outside while I was interviewing!

      6. nonegiven*

        My son flew down to the town he was moving to for a job, to arrange housing. For the apartment he was applying for, the people wanted to see his car. He was coming from a place with really good public transportation and didn’t have one, yet. I guess they didn’t count the rental he was driving against him.

      7. Hannah*

        I’ve actually heard this as a tip for landlords interviewing potential tenants, not job interviews. It makes a lot more sense in that context.

    2. Landshark*

      Tangentially related story, because man, I could and should have learned from you. I accidentally allowed a helicopter situation.

      Right before I did my student teaching, my car was in the shop for a day or two, so I had to hitch a ride down for a preliminary meeting with my administrator and cooperating teacher with my boyfriend.

      It was just after a school shooting on the news, and lots of schools had tightened up security, so he couldn’t stay in his car in the lot. That would’ve been a really bad idea.

      Instead of being reasonable and just telling him to GTFO for a bit, because he didn’t know the area, I somehow had the bright idea of suggesting he WAIT WITH ME IN THE FRONT OFFICE.

      Yeah, my supervising professor chewed me out HARD for that later, and I deserved it.

      1. General Ginger*

        I’m sorry, I think I’m missing something. Why was it wrong for him to wait for you in the office?

        1. Health Insurance Nerd*

          Because it’s inappropriate to bring your boyfriend/SO/partner/parent with you to work meetings.

          1. General Ginger*

            She’s not bringing him into the meeting, though. Having a S/O wait would be completely normal in my office.

            1. ICUAdmin*

              For a job interview?
              I can totally see having your S/O wait in the front office while you popped in to grab something out of your office or something like that, you know, after you had been working there. But I would find it truly bizarre for a job applicant.
              In the last 5 years I’ve scheduled literal hundreds of interviews and only had 1 person bring someone with them to wait in the waiting room. And that was only the tip of the un-professionalism iceberg with that candidate.

              1. General Ginger*

                I don’t see where OP said it was a job interview. They were already set to student teach, but needed to meet with their administrator about it.

        2. DerJungerLudendorff*

          There are no explanations that will make you look better as a candidate, and quite a few that will make you look worse. If nothing else, it can come across as bringing your personal life into your proffesional job.

          It’s not like it’s a massive red flag like a parent chaperoning you around, but you’re better off not risking the negative implications.

        3. Landshark*

          A few reasons… 1. It would have just been better to have him drive off and pick me up later. 2. It’d have been best that my first impression was that of someone independent with personal boundaries. 3. I was super nervous, so I probably explained it super awkwardly too.

      2. Snarktini*

        I have always been independent and have the opposite of a helicopter mom, yet still ended up in a taking-mom-t0-my-interview situation once by accident!

        I was interviewing for jobs in San Francisco (living in Chicago at the time) and since that was one of my family’s fav cities, my mother flew so SF to meet me and make it a vacation. I had an interview in a part of town we’d never been to so she thought it would be fun to tag along, intending to hang out in a cafe or explore the neighborhood while I was in the interview. We were sure she would be completely invisible to the company, and we could have a little adventure after my meeting.

        It turned out that area was an industrial ghost-town! There was NOTHING, not a single restaurant or cafe or public building or lobby mom could be in, and it didn’t look very safe either. We had taken public transit, so there was no car. There were no cabs (and this was 15 years before Uber). It felt so sketchy we didn’t want to split up and leave her at the bus stop.

        I felt like I had to take her in with me, explain, and ask that she be able to sit in their lobby. It was so embarrassing! They were surprisingly kind and not-weird about it, but since I didn’t get the job I wonder if that was a red flag for them. This wouldn’t happen today — I’d have put mom in a Lyft, plus I’d have known from Google Maps that there was nothing there to begin with. But the 90s were a different time!

        1. Busy*

          Wow, that sucks.

          It is like one of those situations where you keep screwing up the first impression by meaning to: like spilling coffee on them, or telling an evil cat joke and theirs just died. Like no saving anything, and it is no one’s fault! Just stupid circumstances. Oh, those things drive my control freak ass insane!!

    3. TootsNYC*

      I really, really balk at being asked to call people to let them know I got home safely. Like, I had a fight w/ my MIL about it once on a rainy night. It feels like a little curse, to me. As though I’m starting out the drive with the expectation that I am very likely to have an accident.

      I was telling my own mom (who lived half a continent away) about it, and I said that I don’t call HER to let her know I’m safe if I’m driving in bad weather. She pointed out that she wasn’t AWARE I was driving in bad weather, and that seeing me start out might put her in a different mindset. (Though I can tell you: Even when I was a kid living in her house, she never, ever said, “call me when you get there so I know you’re safe.”)

      But that might explain it. That said, I’d be with you–I think your mom’s worries (if that’s what was the motivation) are HERS to handle, and making you help her deal with them by her riding along is out of line.

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        This is such an interesting perspective! My parents only asked me to text them when I got places in bad weather for the first year after I got my license but never again after that. However, my friends and I do this all the time when we leave each others’ places late at night, whether we drove ourselves, walked, or are taking Ubers. I’ve never really questioned it before or thought of it as a “curse”

      2. ThatGirl*

        If the weather’s terrible (I don’t just mean rain, but like, severe thunderstorm, bad snow, etc) I want to know my friends got home safe. I don’t see it as a curse at all. But you’re certainly allowed your POV of course.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        We’ve lost family members in traffic incidents, so my mom always did want a “check in” when we were younger. She couldn’t sleep at night if she was wondering where her kids were and if they had gotten to where they were supposed to be. There are a lot of horror stories about not realizing until the next morning that Kid didn’t come back the night before.

        Sometimes I forgot and she never freaked out, she’d just call and check in and then go “oh okay, cool, I can sleep now, see you later.”

        We also lived in a rural area though, so if I had driven off the road, without someone knowing to look, it could take a long time to find a person out there. Or if I broke down on a long-ish road trip but nobody even knew I was out there, yikes yikes yikes.

      4. Pink Marshmallow Bunny*

        “I think your mom’s worries (if that’s what was the motivation) are HERS to handle, and making you help her deal with them by her riding along is out of line.”

        THIS. Soooo much this.

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          I think there are reasonable accommodations to others’ worries/fears (hey, text me when you get there, okay?) versus unreasonable accommodations (I need to drive you because I don’t trust you to be safe even though you’ve shown no evidence to the contrary).

        2. Sue*

          My daughter & I both let each other know when we’ve gotten somewhere safely. We’ve lost family members too. It’s no big deal to text when we’re safe, but I don’t think you should HAVE to do it.

      5. Been There*

        My family runs on the assumption that “no news is good news” most of the time – though in especially bad weather I still let them know I’m home safe

      6. schnauzerfan*

        My mom is a call me when you get there safe person (I’m 58) if she texted she’d be demanding a text. So once upon a time 15 years or so ago. My car broke down in a cell dead zone 90 miles from home. No traffic, but it’s ok because Mom will be expecting my call and she’ll send help. HA. Highway patrol finally stumbled on me about 3 in the morning. Sent a wrecker, loaned me a phone so I could arrange a ride home…

        She still wants me to call and I still give her guff about it.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          My parents operate a “call when you get there” approach to holidays (vacations).
          It works both ways though – dad sends texts when the plane lands, sometimes with a photo, and then I don’t hear from them until they’re back through the front door.
          They’re in their late sixties, and I’m nearly 40. I wouldn’t consider it helicoptering.
          MIL, on the other hand, in the days when she still flew abroad, went through a whole rigmarole of explaining where her copies of her passport, travel insurance, luggage lock combinations and even her *will* were kept before she would even consider going to the airport! Every. Single. Time.

      7. Bortus*

        I’m over 50 and (at their request) I still call my parents when I leave their house and drive home to let them know I’ve arrived safely. I consider it a gesture of respect, not helicoptering at all. shrug.

        1. Ms. Alex*

          My friends and I do this to each other too, especially if we’re traveling in bad weather. :-)

      8. iglwif*

        My family is very much a “let me know when you get home so I know you got there safe” family. It’s never bothered me! Mind you, I haven’t lived with my mom since I was 18, so in my adult life this manifests as “text me when your plane lands” which is … not that big an infringement on my time or autonomy lol.

      9. Gumby*

        Eh, my mom wants me to let her know when I arrive safely back at my home after I leave her house – but it’s a 5+ hour car trip and not a big deal to shoot off a quick text when I arrive. That seems reasonable to me. She doesn’t panic or anything, but if it’s been 7 or 8 hours she’ll text to make sure I just forgot and am not somehow stranded on the side of the freeway.

      10. Former Help Desk Peon*

        I was 25 when I finally moved away from home (ie finally had a job that made it affordable!!), my mom wanted me to call her EVERY NIGHT when I got home from work. No mom, not happening.

        1. Observer*

          That’s very different from calling when you reach wherever after you leave someone else’s place.

      11. ICUAdmin*

        This just seems like a small courtesy to undertake for someone who loves you and is going to worry about you whether you want them to or not.

      12. Bagpuss*

        That’s an interesting perspective.
        My parents ask that I let them know when I get home if I am driving back after visiting them (and will do the same if they visit me), and i have always seen it as something which is very little effort for me, and reassuring for them, so it feels like a small courtesy rather than anything else.
        Mind you, it probably helps that my parents are the reverse of helicopters – they’ve always been really good at encouraging us to be independent and have made a conscious effort not to interfere – I’m sure it feels totally different if you’ve grown up with controlling or over anxious parents.
        Plus my mother has explicitly acknowledged that it isn’t a particularly rational anxiety – she knows I do lots of driving at other times. The difference is whether she knows I am on the road!

        (non-helicoptery anecdote. When I was 17, I went to France on my own to visit a pen-pal. This involved me travelling to and across London, the via a cross-channel ferry and more trains to Paris, crossing Paris and getting more trains to Blois. It wasn’t until I was about 30 that I happened to be having a conversation with my mother about this trip and she admitted that she had not slept for a week before I went, and was practically climbing the walls the whole time I was in transit, and that she and my dad had spent much time over the weeks leading up to the trip talking one another out of telling me I couldn’t go (Originally, the plan had been for a small group from my school to go, but the others dropped out )
        But as far as I was concerned at the , my parents had been nothing but supportive, gave no signs of being worried and seemed to assume that OF COURSE I would be fine, and would have no trouble navigating the public transport of a foreign country and visiting people I hadn’t ever met…!)

        1. Silence is Golden*

          Along those lines, I think the best thing my mom has ever done for me is keep her fears and reservations about my decisions to herself. Wanted to dye my hair blue, so she got a recommendation from a coworker and took me to the salon. Wanted to study abroad in Japan and eventually moved there, she completely supported me. Got a tattoo a month ago and I know she’s not a big fan, but after making sure I was 100% aware of the possible repercussions she didn’t say a peep.
          A few years ago, she opened up and told me she had had reservations, but trusted me to pull it off so she didn’t say anything so I could make my own decisions. (My dad has not quite mastered the “silently supportive” role, unfortunately. I’ll be in for a couple lectures when he finds out about the tattoo)

        2. pandop*

          At 16 I went to Bulgaria to visit the pen pal who had been to visit me the year before – when my parents took her to the airport, they asked the staff to look after her, as she hadn’t travelled much before. I made it quite clear they were not to do that to me. They didn’t, but they did drive me to the airport too, which was nice.

      13. Observer*

        That’s completely normal and NOT “helicoptering” at all. And, especially in difficult driving, it’s a reasonable worry. I wouldn’t have a fight about it, but I would be rolling my eyes SO hard.

      14. Kateagory5*

        I also hate this! Along with “be careful” whenever I’m traveling or doing anything. Well I wasn’t going to but now that you’ve said it….ok.

        1. Ms. Alex*

          I tell people, “I’m telling you to drive safely not because I think you drive UNsafely but because it makes me feel better.” Like somehow I’m able to wish upon them safe travels. My friends have come to realize this is one of the ways I show I care – that and checking on them if the Weather Channel shows bad weather in their area. :-D

      15. Hepzibah Pflurge*

        We call that “courtesy texting” among my family/friends who do that.

      16. Curmudgeon in California*

        The traffic is sufficiently crazy in my town that my spouse is less nervous when I text them to let them know I’m on the way home. Plus, they can start dinner and be closer to done when I arrive. Yes, it’s a little anxiety driven, but doing it keeps them calmer/happier. Happy spouse is a happy house.

    4. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      One time my dad drove me to an interview, but it was in the middle of the Chicago loop where parking is impossible, and I’d never taken the train before. He dropped me off outside the office and never showed his face inside. I don’t think I mentioned that he’d done that to the interviewers — and I got the job — but I’m still on the fence about if that’s cringeworthy or not.

      1. starsaphire*

        See, I think getting dropped off (by a parent or spouse or whatev) is totally OK — no different than taking a taxi, really.

        1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

          Right? It’s free and minimizes the risk of arriving late because of parking or whatever. As long as you hide it from the company I guess?

      2. Lynn Marie*

        Not cringe worthy because it’s something you’d reasonably ask a room mate to do for you or you would do for them.

      3. Pink Marshmallow Bunny*

        I don’t think this is cringe-worthy at all. I think it makes a lot of sense and was a logical way to handling getting to the interview.

        It also sounds like you welcomed the help, and that it was truly help and not a parent stomping on boundaries or treating their adult son/daughter like a child. To me this seems like a win all around!

        1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

          So I think the reason I commented on your post at all is because I was failing to see the difference between your story about your mom driving you to your interview versus my dad driving me to mine. At first I thought that you were saying it’s unprofessional to have a parent drive you, period, based on the responses you said to your mom. But I guess the difference is when it’s just because your parent WANTS to be your ride whether you want them to or not, or if them driving you isn’t the most logical option. Do you agree?

          1. Pink Marshmallow Bunny*

            I think there’s a big difference between when a person asks for a ride from a parent and the parent drops them off and then goes away so the person can conduct work/interview business on their own, and when a parent is trying to make a person accept a ride from them when they don’t want to accept and also does not plan on going away.

            To me the differences are in what the person getting the ride wants (do they want the ride at all, or do they not?), whether the parent is truly trying to be helpful as opposed to letting their own worries take over and being overprotective, and whether the parent simply gives them the ride or hangs around against the person’s wishes.

            In your case, it seems to me like you welcomed the ride and help, and that your parent was truly helpful and helped you because they cared about you. I also think drop-offs like yours make sense and happen often in a busy city and/or when you didn’t know where you were going. Plus, your parent left right after dropping you off. I see zero problems with doing it this way.

            In my case, I did not welcome the ride, I resented the infantilizing attitude, I realized that my mother was doing this not to help me but because she was anxious about me driving somewhere (her issue, not mine), and I did not want her parking in the workplace parking lot and hanging out there. This was a small company located in the suburbs and in its own building, and I knew exactly how to get there. Therefore, in my case I did not feel like her offer of “help” was reasonable or logical.

            I don’t think it’s always unprofessional to have a parent drive you. But it really depends on the specific situation and the people involved in that situation.

            1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

              Well said! I’m glad you were able to get yourself there in the end and I hope your mom’s anxieties have improved since.

            2. tamarack and fireweed*

              Well said. I don’t think there’s any drop-off arrangement that’s necessarily, on the face of it, unprofessional. If A and A’s mother happen to live on the same commuting route, and it is convenient for them to carpool, and for some reason — preference, practicality, or even stuff like a vision impairment or aversion to driving — it makes sense for A’s mother to be the driver every time, there’s nothing at all wrong with it. It can be a mutually beneficial arrangement between adults. It would be inappropriate and unprofessional to judge a co-worker just because their mom drops them off every day. It’s the underlying conflicts and/or attitudes that would make it helicoptering.

      4. league.*

        I think that’s totally normal. Parent as transportation is fine! Parent as unpaid job assistant, or unpaid job-interview assistant, is not.

      5. Pebbles*

        If your dad didn’t stick around and only came back to get you once you were done, I’d say you’re fine. How are the interviewers to know that was your dad? People can take Uber to job interviews, right?

      6. Jadelyn*

        I don’t think it’s cringeworthy – it’s no different than any other rideshare, or asking a friend to drive you or something. If the involvement begins and ends with the driving part, I don’t see the issue.

      7. Jen2*

        I think it’s perfectly fine. There’s no way for the interviewers to know how you got there.

    5. Nep*

      Nicely done!

      I’ll admit, I’ve driven my husband to interviews now and then. But each time I’d explicitly come to the town to check it out to see if I wanted to move there or not, and I certainly did not wait in the parking lot for him. (And there’s definitely a difference between a spouse dropping one off and a parent.)

      1. The Grammarian*

        I’ve done the same thing—flown into the city where my partner’s job interview was, rented a car, dropped him off at the interview, went and checked out apartments, picked him up from the interview. It would have been weird to go inside or to sit outside in the car.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Heck, sometimes my spouse will ride to an interview with me because they have something they want to do in the area, and they’ll wait for me in our car after they are done. This often saves us mileage.

    6. giraffe*

      I had an old boss who used to send someone out to the parking lot to see how tidy an applicant’s car was. I found out about it after I’d been working there for a year or so and they were hiring a new person.

      My car is *always* a mess. The day of my interview, I’d borrowed my mom’s car, which is much nicer and cleaner than mine! I can’t even remember why I didn’t take my own; I just liked driving hers because it had a better stereo. I still wonder if they wouldn’t have given me the job if I’d had my own car.

      (In case anyone is wondering, the boss who did this was a terrible boss. Duh.)

    7. vw*

      That’s invasive. I’m a very neat and organized person but my car is… not.
      It’s got 200k+ on it, I have a dog and I regularly engage in outdoor activities (there’s equipment for at least four in there right now). It’s paid off and it does what I need. I’m not going to put money into making it look better.

    8. Clay on my apron*

      I’d never get a job if that happened. I have way too much on my plate and keeping my car clean is never going to take priority over making sure my kids eat, walking the dog, or getting to work on time.

    9. Lazy Cat's Mom*

      I never thought I had helicopter parents but this this is making me realize that I did, at least a little. Still, this post makes me recall a particular event that honestly made me appreciate my parents a lot.
      I was just graduating from University of Maryland (22 yrs old) and got an opportunity at a newspaper in Delaware. They wanted me to come take a skills test at 7pm at night. That was the only time they would do it. The paper was hours away from school. When my parents heard they flipped out because I would be driving several hours each way at “late at night.”
      So my dad insisted on driving me. When we got to the paper, he insisted on staying in the car even though I told him it would probably be ok. He must have realized it looked bad.
      I didn’t get that job but I always thought it was amazing I had a dad who would drive all that way just to take me to an interview.
      Of course there’s also the time I was 28, been on my own for 6 years and came home at 1am to numerous messages on my answering machine (before cell phones). My parents were freaking out about my whereabouts and the last message said they were going to drive down and check on my.
      I immediately called home and my brother said they were getting in the car. Luckily he ran out and caught them. He, of course, found this hysterically funny.
      Despite this, I was lucky. There were lots of times they encouraged my independence, even sending me off with a youth group for two months at age 17 to visit another country.

  21. Taryn*

    A couple of jobs ago, I was the manager of a retail operation…I had this 16 year old employee who was useless and her mom demanded to speak with me all the time about her daughter (what does this mean on her paycheck?? Why did you write her up for missing a week of work?? Why did you schedule her on this shift?? Why did you have her working on this role for the day, when she prefers that role??).

    Because she was a minor, my boss said we just had to deal with it…fine, whatever, it’s annoying but whatever.

    Only problem was, this girls 19 year old sister also worked with us…and her mom tried to ask all of the same sorts of questions about her, and would absolutely flip her lid when I would explain that her 19 year old daughter is an adult and I couldn’t discuss any aspect of her role/job performance/position with her.

    Oh she did not like that. She did not like that at all.

    1. Orbit*

      Parents like this were why we didn’t hire anyone under 18 at my last retail job. Our district manager had too many issues dealing with parents over the years.

      I had to deal with the mother of a former employee once, after we let her go for missing 3 consecutive shifts and not answering any of the messages we left for her. The mother was adamant that it wasn’t her daughters fault she missed the shifts or the messages because she had lost her cell phone. So how was she supposed to know we were calling her.

  22. CatCat*

    This was law school, but I still get irritated thinking about it. I went to law school at age 27 after 5 years in the working world. It was within the first couple weeks that that my mom called the school the express concern that she hadn’t heard from me in *a day* and could they check on me. My mom didn’t live very far from me and also had, you know, my phone number. (Apparently, I didn’t call back fast enough though.) So the school did indeed call to check on me. I was embarrassed and pretty livid. Had a sharp conversation with her about boundaries after that. She was a bit defensive, but did not happen again.

    1. jf*

      The same thing happened to my wife (then-girlfriend) her first month in a doctoral program (similar age), except that her parents called the school police. The officer who showed up was quite nice, thankfully.

    2. SameSame*

      This is something my mother would do. In fact, she used to call my last job constantly. I gave her the number for emergencies only but if she called my direct line and I didn’t answer she would call the front desk and ask someone to look for me. One day I was busy running around working on a last minute motion and she called my direct line but I didn’t answer. 10 seconds later the receptionist comes to my desk and says “Your mother is on the phone. She asked me if you were at work today since she called your direct line and you didn’t answer. I know you’re really busy but when I told her you were here she asked to speak to you” How embarrassing! I didn’t want to put the reception in the awkward position of having to tell my mother that it was not a good time to talk so I took the call but I was visibly annoyed! I have never given my mother another office number since. If she needs me she can call my cell.

      1. SameSame*

        I forgot to mention she routinely called asking anyone that answered the phone “Is my daughter there today? I haven’t heard from her and she usually calls me on the way in to work” Why do parents do this? As if they’ve completely forgotten professional norms.

        1. Auntie Social*

          My dad did that. His law practice was probate and estate planning so it was all a pretty leisurely pace. I worked in family law which is like being a firefighter without the hoses—ex parte appearances, several hearings per week, etc. Controlled chaos. My dad would call the receptionist and ask why I hadn’t called him back, he had called my personal line fifteen minutes ago. I was mortified and apologized to the receptionist. She laughed and said she had a Latina helicopter dad of her own, and the only reason we didn’t know HE called every day was that she was the receptionist. In fact, he had just gotten through calling to,tell her to put gas in her car! Mind you, this woman is married and the mom of two, and wildly competent.

          1. Boobookitty*

            She sounds amazing! I’ve found reception is one of the hardest positions to keep staffed because of what receptionists often have to put up with from rude callers.

    3. NoMeetingRequired*

      I was 30 years old and living 7 hours away from my folks. One weekend, I decided to spend Saturday and Sunday with friends in another city about an hour away. When I got home Sunday evening, my parents called, anxious because they couldn’t reach me all weekend, and told me that they had called the local and state police to file a missing persons report. Fortunately, the cops turned them down, saying it hadn’t been long enough. (This was way before cell phones.) I was so angry. I told them to NEVER do that again, and I didn’t speak to them for weeks. (Nothing ever improved, so eventually, I cut ties with them.)

      1. Yorick*

        My family would give me crap about that sort of thing too, although they never called the police.

      2. Live & Learn*

        This is embarrassing. In college I lived with my best friend who had grown up with very strict parents who made her report her whereabouts constantly in the pre-cell phone days. She and I had made plans to have dinner together at 5:30. She didn’t come home. I waited. At 7:00 I was annoyed so I called her sister and a friend to see if they’d seen her, nothing. By 10:00 I was worried, this was so not like her. By midnight I called the small town cops and the local hospital to make sure nothing happened to her. They printed missing person flyers up with the only recent photo of her I could find….with her dressed as a sultry pirate. She showed up at 2:00 am from playing pool in a bar she’d never gone to before with people she’d never hung out with before. The cope lectured her. She was mortified. I was so worried about her though!

      3. Mockingdragon*

        When my brother was an upperclassman in high school, he missed the bus one day and decided, instead of calling mom to pick him up, to just kill an hour in the library and catch the after-activities bus.

        By the time he got home, at most 90 minutes late, my mom had filed a police report.

        Why do I have anxiety? -_-

      4. Thankful for AAM*

        I’m in my 50s and married, ie I dont live alone. A few months ago there is a knock at the door on a Saturday morning. I see through the glass it is a police officer. I answer in my long t-shirt/sleep shirt and say can you give me a minute to dress?

        I let him in and he says he is there to do a wellness check. My mom in another state called him bc when we spoke, I did not sound right. She thought I was under duress.

        1. We had not spoken that day.
        2. Speaking to her makes me sound like I am under duress!

    4. Joielle*

      My mom did this once too! It was in college and I was volunteering at a weeklong environmental summer camp-type-thing for high schoolers. It was in the middle of nowhere and I had no internet or cell reception, which I had told her. Don’t call me, I said! I won’t get the call! If something happens, I will use the camp phone (only for emergencies) and call you!

      Of course, she tried to call me, panicked when I didn’t call back, and ended up calling some national program person whose number she found online. Eventually the message made it to me, with the added embarrassment of MANY people throughout the organization having dealt with my insane mother. I literally did not speak to her for a year after that incident.

    5. Bunny Girl*

      I wouldn’t describe my mom as a helicopter parent in the least but sometimes she did sort of panic when I don’t answer the phone when I lived on my own. I had one summer where I picked up a temp job in addition to my full time one and I worked non-stop with only a day off the whole summer. Understandably I silenced my phone and slept in that day but when I woke up at around noon I had like 12 missed calls. I called her back and reminded her that this was the most sleep I’d had in like 3 months.

    6. Lucy*

      The only time my parents made this kind of call, they hadn’t heard from me for nearly a week, I wasn’t answering my landline or mobile, and the media had named me as having broken my back in a sporting event …

      (I hadn’t)

    7. Absurda*

      A friend in college had a rather challenging relationship with her father. She was going through a phase of being mad at him and refused to answer or return his calls. He called the RA in the dorm. Not sure how the conversation went, but the RA was livid, stomped down the hall to her room and demanded she call her dad right then.

      Later, after we had graduated, we were roommates together. Her parents would routinely call at 7am on Saturdays or Sundays because that was the only time they were guaranteed to talk to her. This was a sure thing because their call would wake me up, and I’d go and pound on her door to wake her up and make her pick up the phone.

    8. Chinookwind*

      Hearing these stories makes me think that my mother kept my father from his helicoptering tendencies.

      His most outrageous (but in an endearing way) was when I got a job in Japan. When I arrived in Tokyo, I called to tell them I was there and but I still had one more flight to go and then figure out how to use pay phones to call internationally (I had been warned they were different outside the airport), so don’t worry if they don’t hear from me for a bit.

      3 days into my job and our office manager tells me that there is a call for me. Strange – I don’t know anyone in the entire country? Turned out that my dad knew that an old coworker/friend had a daughter working 2 hours away and my dad called his friend and had him call his daughter who could then track down my office (and this is all pre-Google) so that she could call me to tell me to call home. Which she did (with the benefit is that she found another English speaker near by that she actually knew).

      I am still impressed by his detective skills because, at that point, I couldn’t have told you the address or phone number of my office and he had tracked me down half way around the world.

    9. Kitryan*

      Junior year or so of undergrad I didn’t call or return their calls the first week of classes (pretty sure I confirmed that I’d arrived though). And cell phones were still only for emergencies at this point.
      So, at the end of the first week of classes I walk into the costume shop (my major was costume design and that was my main hangout) and basically the entire room turns to me and says ‘call your dad!’.
      He’d called the shop and my advisor to make sure I was ok. I was so embarrassed!

      My parents are (still) a bit overprotective but if I point out that they’re stepping over a boundary they really take it to heart, so this sort of thing didn’t/doesn’t happen regularly.

  23. StopTheInsanity*

    A colleague was falling behind on projects and when I asked her what was going on she told me that her freshman in college daughter was having trouble with an online chemistry class the daughter was going to need to get into another class, so colleague was taking her daughter’s class for her. The class was taking up a lot of her time because she hadn’t taken a class let alone chemistry in a really long time.
    She also wrote 3 of her daughter’s papers in one semester, and one day she canceled lunch plans because she had to drive 3 hours to take her daughter to the doctor. When I expressed concern for her daughter colleague said daughter wasn’t sick, she just had never been to the doctor by herself.
    The colleague was laid off during a restructure, and I am certain if she hadn’t fallen so behind over that last year, she would have been kept and one of her teammates would have been let go. She had always been a high-performer and well respected, but I guess having the daughter so far away and college classes being harder than high school class, it was all too much for her to juggle.

    1. Semprini!*

      I’m amazed that she hasn’t taken a class, let alone chemistry, in a really long time, yet still thinks she can do better than her daughter, who is accustomed to taking classes and presumably has taken the prerequisites to the chemistry course no too long ago!

      1. TootsNYC*

        well, probably the MOM was the one who took those prerequisites. And probably the mom has lots of recent experience in taking classes.

      2. Steggy Saurus*

        Also, what were the daughter and the mother going to do when the harder class for which chemistry was a prerequisite started? Imagine it was a pre-med program, or a nursing program? Then you’ve got a potential doctor or nurse whose mom is the one who really knows all the chemistry involved. What a disaster.

        1. StopTheInsanity*

          She was only a freshman, but was saying she wanted to be a doctor. *facepalm* I expressed my concern to the mom. And she had a ton of excuses about it being her first year, she has anxiety, etc.

    2. frostipaws*

      Hope the daughter was not a science major. Could you imagine having a doctor whose parent had completed their assignments for them?!

    3. WellRed*

      Was her name Lori Loughlin? Nothing like committing a little fraud on behalf of you brood.

    4. iglwif*

      Good grief.

      I always wonder two things, when I hear stories about parents doing their kids’ schoolwork: first, what is the goal here? and second, WHEN WILL YOU STOP?

      1. Wing Leader*

        My mom and stepdad did my schoolwork for me all the way up until I went to college. My mom always said that it was because she wanted me to get good grades (with the implication that she didn’t trust me to do that on my own). I remember crying once over a project I wanted to do myself because I liked the subject, but Mom wouldn’t allow it. She had my stepdad do it despite my crying pleas, and I grew up believing I was stupid. Still struggle with that.

        I became an adult, married woman who knew how to do very little–even the most basic things–for myself because I was never taught how nor allowed to. Mom always thought she could do better and knew better. Luckily, my husband is very patient and has taught me a lot (and he can’t stand my mom).

        1. LaDeeDa*

          When I encounter helicopter parents I tell them, they are not making things better for their kids, what they are teaching their kids is that they (the kid) isn’t capable. That is the message the kids get.
          When I was young, in the 90s- pre-cellphone days, I would take off for months on end- backpacking across Europe, the US, and Australia. My mom always said to me “I am so scared, but I raised you to be smart and resourceful. Call if you need me.”
          If you do everything for your kid, it tells me you don’t think YOU as a parent are capable of raising a fully functioning adult.

        2. Shoes on My Cat*

          Wing Leader, you got a wonderful spouse! And you CAN learn it all! Maybe even see if that project you liked has an affiliated hobby? Or college class just for fun? As an adult, you can MAKE your own do-over projects! For me, my dad was very ‘girls do inside work, boys mow/yard work’….and I was never motivated to do inside work or allowed/approved to be a tomboy. As an adult? I can string or fix barbed wire fences, fix & hang livestock gates, use a gas powered weed wacker, DRIVE A TRACTOR and a few other handy outdoor skills. The best part is that now Dad asks me for advice on the best work gloves for his hobby work and gardening! Some can learn..

        3. Kitryan*

          I went through a period in grade school where my mom had very little to do- she stayed home w/the kids and we were now both in school.
          When I got assignments that involved artistic stuff or crafting she would try to do it for me- she was worried the other parents would be doing that and frankly, she was bored and personally unfulfilled at the time. It was really disheartening for me though as those were the most fun parts of the projects! And of course as an adult and an artist she was way better than me.
          She later started picking back up her own artistic interests and sculpting in clay and marble and painting in oils and generally being her *own* amazing self and magically things got better.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            It’s too bad she couldn’t have just used your assignments as inspiration and done them alongside you rather than taking over, but I’m glad she got better.

          2. formerChild*

            It’s fascinating to see the other side of this. When I was a kid, any time there was a take-home project, all the other kids would come in with beautiful projects made by their parents, but my mom was a single mother who was far too busy to help at all, really. I found it extremely disheartening at the time and didn’t realize until I was older that it was their parents doing all of it for them. I just thought I was really bad at those projects.

            I don’t think I was ever given a bad grade for these projects I actually did myself– perhaps the teachers really appreciated that they were always my work, even?

        4. iglwif*

          Oh my goodness, how awful! Seriously, what were they thinking?!

          I’m glad you ended up married to someone who thinks you should get to learn to do things for yourself, because WOW.

    5. Gumby*

      Learning doesn’t work that way! It doesn’t work that way at all!

      Plus that is a huge honor code violation that would get you kicked out of my school entirely much less kept out of a class that you probably aren’t prepared for and will fail because *you didn’t take the prereq*.

    6. starzzy*

      THIS is why, as an instructor of some online classes, I never give letters of recommendation to students I’ve only had online.

  24. CDM*

    Certainly not the most egregious example, but I worked with high school students who lifeguarded and taught swim lessons part time. Father of one employee called my boss to announce that his child would not be working until further notice because their mid-semester GPA had dropped to a 90, which was unacceptable. Child taught swim lessons, which is a 7 week commitment for continuity of instruction. (filling lifeguard shifts was easier).

    My boss talked to the employee, who showed up for all scheduled shifts over the next few weeks like the phone call never happened.

    I’m kind of surprised in retrospect that we didn’t have more helicopter parenting involving the teen employees, and I worked with a couple hundred teens over seven years.

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      That’s really sad. Teenagers have enough going on without worrying about their parents being disappointed with them for *their grades dropping to a low A*.

        1. Also Amazing*

          Yeah, my mom used to tell me all the time that “a 94 is an A~”, implying a 93 is a B, and I distinctly remember wondering, as an elementary school student, why I should care what her grades were like when she was my age. This was usually followed by wondering why anyone would not use nice, neat tens for grade ranges. Like, who decided you only get 7 points to get an A? Is the B range 93-83? Is the C range expanded?

          I was a somewhat difficult child.

          1. PepperVL*

            It’s an 8 point scale.
            93-100 – A
            85-92 – B
            77-84 – C
            70-76 – D
            69 & below – F

            Though I’m not certain about where the cutoff between C &. D is. But some schools use that scale.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I don’t know if that’s necessarily sad. For me a 90 would have been a B and the agreement with my parents in high school was that I could work as long as it didn’t interfere with school. I needed to maintain an A average for my scholarships. A free ride to school was worth way more than a $4/hour minimum wage job. So I don’t seem it as an unreasonable rule for a teenager still in high school (although kid should be the one to resign not parent).

        1. Grapey*

          If it’s on a timed commitment though, I’d think it’s more important that the kid finish that out, or not agree if there are such conditions in the first place.

        2. gwal*

          How did you already have a scholarship with specific parameters in high school? Was it a private school?

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I had a problem with some of my teen lifeguards’ parents “grounding” them from work. At the last minute, say 4 pm for a 6 pm shift, “I’m not giving you a ride/you’ve been out at activities too many days this week/you didn’t clean your room so you are grounded from work tonight!”

      Or they’d demand the kid stay home from work to babysit a younger sibling, again at the last minute, so they’d end up bringing the kid to sit on the pool bleachers for 4-5 hours while their sibling worked their shift.

      We tried to work with the kids, it really wasn’t their fault, but eesh parents.

      1. TheRedCoat*

        Yeeep. Worked at the same place as my sister. Sister would take off after her shift and tell my dad she was working when she was actually with guys. Dad called and told them that my sister would no longer be working there.

        Manager fired me too.

    3. Ego Chamber*

      This reminds me of when I worked at a pizza place just after high school and one of my coworkers had controlling, borderline abusive parents.

      The parents had always been a little too involved in her work, despite her protests, and one day, her dad called the manager to say she wasn’t working there anymore, so the manager had to scramble to get someone to cover. 2 hours later, the employee rolls in on time for her shift. Turns out she had moved out of her parents’ house and in with a couple of friends to get away from the parents’ bullshit, but they figured if she didn’t have a job anymore she wouldn’t be able to afford rent and would have to move back home. Great plan!

      1. Blarg*

        Did she get to keep the job?? I hope the manager let her stay. That’s not borderline abuse. That’s abuse.

    4. Anne (with an “e”)*

      This happened to my sister when I was away at college. My sister (maybe 15 years old) got a job at a Putt-Putt. I believe she rented out the putters and balls, sold concessions, etc. When she was first hired it was made *EXTREMELY* clear to my sister and mom that the manager had weekly all staff meetings after closing on Sunday nights. Now, my sister did not drive and relied on my mom for transportation, so she explained this to my mother. My mother said it was fine because my mother was all about her kids having a job. But, my mother was also ridiculous. So, on Sunday nights after closing my mother used to show up in the parking lot at whatever time she thought my sister should be getting off — in her deluded mind — whether it was when the meeting was over, or not. Then she would sit on her horn right outside the business. Of course, everyone in the meeting could hear my mother’s outrageous horn for the majority of the meeting. My mom used to tell sis that the manager didn’t really need to meet @ that time with everyone, that he was holding them late on a Sunday night as a power trip. She tried to get my sister to organize a group push back because the manager was the one who was being so unreasonable. * Yeah, mom, right (sarcasm)* A coworker of my sister offered to give my sis a ride home on Sundays. Sis thought, “Finally, a solution to this embarrassing mess.” The young man even introduced himself to my mom and offered. Mom, not surprisingly, said, “No way!” She told my sister that the coworker was “from the wrong side of town, attended the wrong high school, and couldn’t be trusted.” Plus, my mom was a control freak, manipulator who was on a deluded mission to make the manger cancel his weekly all staff meetings. The manager ended up telling my sister that if my mother had a problem with the weekly meeting he would have to let her go. So, my sister lost her job. It’s so bizarre because my mother always wanted all of us to work “no matter what.”

  25. zolk*

    My coworker, a woman in her 40s, is a helicopter parent. Last year she complained about not being able to go somewhere during the summer because she couldn’t leave her daughters alone. That seemed totally reasonable until she decided that for the entire summer her youngest daughter needed to be at the spare desk in her office every day 9-5 for the same reason.

    She was at least 19 years old.

    1. Observer*

      And her daughter actually showed up?

      Helicopter, for sure. But it also rings bells for abuse. Because WHY would a healthy 19 yo agree to this?

      1. zolk*

        Friend, her daughter was there, five days a week. This was approximately a year ago and I believe the daughter is getting married this year so. I might have even _under_ aged her.

        1. zolk*

          Unsurprisingly, two of her three(?) daughters have worked here. One was great. One was awful.

    2. Alli525*

      My mom’s third ex-husband lived with his parents until he was in his 50s, then moved a couple houses down the street and still spent every day with them. When I asked him why, he said “I don’t want my mother to be alone.” She did not have ANY medical ailments, and her husband (his dad) had normal work hours – he just never wanted to leave her side.

      I was not surprised when that marriage ended.

  26. Deeshyone*

    Oof…this person is a distant relative.
    Years ago, Daughter (18) was working at a licensed food establishment in her first full time job and Mother was in attendance 60% of the shifts Daughter worked. Called out patrons who she felt may have been rude, overly friendly, not-friendly enough, etc. to Daughter. Mother “advised” the owner multiple times on how to run their business and especially on how Daughter needed special or alternative rules because of life reasons (single parent and absentee father were main veins). Eventually Daughter (or Mother, not sure at this point) received a promotion to manager and then things really got weird.
    Mother complained to Owner about Daughter’s increased responsibilities and the additional pressure of being a manager. Vocalized to anybody who was in earshot on how Owner was taking advantage of Daughter’s inexperience and just letting Daughter run the business for the Owner while Owner just took extra long breaks, vacations, skipped responsibilities (not true). Mother also insisted she brought business in and she deserved special treatment from Owner as well.
    Owner responded by taking responsibilities back from Daughter and lessening her role and her shifts worked (Daughter was also booking off premium weekend time for herself, delegating her exclusive managerial tasks to other servers and ignoring general maintenance tasks that was to be done by all staff – Owner included). Mother took offense and argued with Owner.
    Owner restricts more responsibilities and eventually Daughter decided to move on and put in her notice to Owner. Owner advised staff that Daughter was leaving, which is an utterly normal thing to do, and Mother went right off the deep end. Confronted Owner about gossiping about Daughter, revealed a level of paranoia that I didn’t know existed until I got dragged in for reasons that are still mysterious to me. Mother also went and confronted all who she felt gossiped about Daughter, calling down the establishment, the Owner, Owner’s family and their pets, vendors…the list went on and on (and still one – Mother still complains six years after the fact!).
    Owner’s responsibility in this was not shutting down Mother and Daughter early (a mistake they will never make again).
    Mother is a lunatic and has trained Daughter well. Mother asked if I could get Daughter a job where I worked ~ ooo, no thank you.
    I avoid all reunions.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      If it weren’t for the fact it was several years ago, I would swear I taught this kid in grade 8 and dealt with that mother.

  27. starsaphire*

    Unfortunately, I have to say… mine.

    A little background: I grew up in a fairly small town. My parents were pretty hands-off about most things, but my mom developed a bad case of overprotectiveness as I reached adulthood (I was the youngest). My folks were also really civic-minded, and were involved in a lot of local charities and service organizations. Plus my mom was retired, which gave her a lot of time and energy for volunteer work.

    Jobs were scarce as it was, but it was so frustrating sitting down in job interviews and being asked, “So how are your mom and dad?”

    So the first time I didn’t have to deal with that in a job interview, I took the job. I was 19 and it was my first sit-down job — part time, minimum wage, answering phones at a nonprofit that my parents weren’t in any way involved with.

    Within three months, of course, my mom was sitting on the Board of Directors. In a year, she was the Board president. And sometimes, when the Executive Director was on leave, Mom would come into the office to sign checks.

    It wasn’t so bad except for the time that I got in trouble for not doing dishes or something like that, and the next day my mom came into the office to sign paychecks — and she refused to sign mine.

    Fortunately, the bookkeeper (my boss) laid down the law big time, and my check got signed. But it was so, so, so embarrassing.

    In totally unrelated news, a few months after that happened, I moved several hundred miles away…

    1. Elspeth*

      Whoa. That is not your fault though, embarrassing as it is – that’s all on your mother. Glad you managed to leave all that meddling in your life behind (I hope).

    2. Nep*

      Wow.

      I was thinking you were very smart to take the first job that didn’t ask you that question, but then your parents. Congrats on your move away!

      1. starsaphire*

        Oh, I think she knew. :) She eventually got over it, thankfully.

        And it was a long, long time ago.

    3. Beth*

      Go you!

      Moving a long ways away is incredibly liberating, isn’t it? I chose a college 1200 miles away from home — not because I needed to get away from my parents, but because I really, really wanted to get a LONG ways away from my small, insular, toxic home town.

      1. starsaphire*

        Yes – it was definitely freeing! :)

        Things worked out with my folks, thankfully, after time passed. But I have never, and will never, move back to that place.

    4. WS*

      We had a young staff member (she would have been 18 or 19) in her first job. She didn’t have her own car, so her mother would pick her up after work. No big deal, but her mother kept showing up earlier and earlier and coming into the shop to watch what her daughter was doing. By the time she was sitting there for an hour, the boss had a quiet word with her and she dropped back to no more than about 20 minutes hanging around.

      But then it was the Christmas party. Staff are allowed to bring a partner or spouse, and the young staff member indicated that she was bringing someone. We all thought, great, she’s dating somebody, how nice, but no, it was her mother. Who then sat on the table with the younger staff members and corrected their table manners. The poor daughter was mortified and the next year she moved to another town.

  28. Kathleen_A*

    I once hired a guy I’ll call Howard Wolowitz to work as a reporter at a newspaper in Middle-of-Nowhere, California, and after he got the job, his parents actually moved to Middle-of-Nowhere to be near him. I say “parents,” but I’m 99.9% sure that the main instigator in this move was Mrs. Wolowitz.

    Mrs. Wolowitz used to come into the office all the time, fussing and smothering and interfering and prying and fretting. I won’t say she checked to make sure Howard was having regular bowel movements, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised, and I’m 100 percent sure that even though he had his own apartment (you had to have known Mrs. Wolowitz to realize what an achievement this was for poor Howard), he had to eat his vegetables before he was allowed to have dessert.

    She tried to mother all the rest of us, too, including crocheting afghans for each and every staff member – and while this wasn’t a big staff (seeing as the paper was in Middle-of-Nowhere), that was still, like, 8 afghans. She also bought me personally a rolling pin because “You’ve got to have a rolling pin!” (I actually still have the rolling pin – and use it, too.)

    Howard was a good guy – and a good reporter – but his mother was…well, “smothering” is the best adjective I can think of at the moment. I hope he eventually managed to make a life for himself. Anyway, it’s really clear why he didn’t bring any of this up until after he got the job.

    1. mrs whosit*

      I almost added this to the dorm thread above, but it seems better here.
      My brother-in-law had a college roommate who never flushed the toilet, no matter what. He couldn’t figure out why until the roommate’s mother came to visit and… went into the bathroom after he was finished, to flush for him. Yikes. Talk about smothering.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Aaaauuugh! Thank God I don’t know this roommate nor what he looks like, because if I did, the image of this guy standing around while his mother goes in and flushes for him is one I’d never be able to unsee.

  29. Shelly*

    To set the stage, our phone systems are set up to send an email with the caller ID information. And of course, some people have their work email on their cell phone.

    On Labor Day, an employee used their day off to go the movies. Employee’s mom called/texted her daughter’s cell phone, but it was during the movie, so the daughter didn’t respond. Mom beings to panic, and she forgets that daughter has day off for holiday, so mom calls her daughter’s office line, which she has never used before. Except it’s a shared office line so the email with the caller ID information goes to her daughter’s supervisor.

    Now the supervisor has this personal fear (nightmare?) that she is confused about the extra day off and that she should really be at the office. So when she sees the email with the caller ID information, she assumes that it is her employee, the daughter, because of the distinctive last name. Her nightmare has come true and she’s supposed to be at work! So she calls back the number that’s listed, only to find herself in a conversation with a panicked mother about whether her daughter is okay or not. During their conversation, mom and supervisor are at least able to agree that is really is a holiday, so the supervisor calms down. And right around then is when the daughter finished her movie so she calls her mom back to find out that her mom is now loosely acquainted with her supervisor.

    1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

      I hope mom and supervisor did not have any contact after that! If not, that doesn’t seem too terrible, just a funny story.

      One time my mom became worried because she opened Find my Friends to see if my dad’s flight had landed, and when it refreshed it showed my location at a hospital in the middle of a workday. She frantically texted me (luckily not my office!!) asking why I was at a hospital, and I had to remind her that they were one of my clients. We laughed about it for awhile but I’m so relieved that didn’t go any worse than it did.

  30. Hiring Mgr*

    FWIW I’ve never seen a case of helicopter parenting at work… I kind of assume this is like one of those things about younger people that barely ever happen but are blown way out of proportion

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      What sucks is that younger people get the blowback for what is often not under their control. “Oh, look at these kids, so reliant!” when really it should be “look at these absolutely bonkers parents.”

      1. LaDeeDa*

        When I have leaders complaining about the younger people, I point blank say “you raised them. Then I ask them to tell me about how hands they are on with their kids….” They get a little uncomfortable with it. :)

      2. Jessen*

        It’s a lot harder to launch at 18 now than it was for the prior generation, too. Student loan rules are biased towards parental support, and there’s an ever decreasing number of jobs capable of supporting someone that don’t require either a degree or experience. Which means the newly adult crowd may not have as easy a time just moving out as the prior generation did, if they want to get away.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Not to mention how much more expensive collage is. When my dad went to collage you could pay for it yourself it you worked full time, which was common. Now it’s student loans or your parents paying for it. Parents paying for collage gives them a lot more power and control over their kids than if their kids didn’t need such a massive amount of money from them.

          1. Boobookitty*

            For some reason, every time I read the word “collage” in your comment I heard it in my mind with a French accent. In my country, we use the spelling “college” for the word that refers to post-secondary education.

            1. Dolorous Bread*

              It’s not just your country. College and collage are different words here too…

      3. iglwif*

        Yeah, that pisses me off a lot. Like, kids only know what “normal” looks like from what they see in their own families and their wider environment; if they have helicopter parents and so do their friends and classmates, it is NOT THEIR FAULT if they come to see that as just how things are!

        By all means, coach kids and scaffold them towards independence if you’re in a position to do so, but don’t mock them for having bonkers parents, cos those parents were probably bonkers before the kids were even born.

        As a Gen-X-er, I’m endlessly entertained (also enraged) by Boomers complaining about how Millennials don’t know this and can’t do that. Who are the parents of Millennials? Boomers are. Y’all raised them and now you don’t like how they turned out? Sorry, that’s on you. (Also, endlessly annoyed that Boomers seem unable to remember how OLD millennials are. My 16yo is not a millennial! You know who is? Her 35yo Law teacher.)

        1. StopTheInsanity*

          100% Agree. In meetings/sessions/trainings with Boomers, I have a handy chart with the ages of each generation so they can stop complaining about the kids.

          It is also the reason I fought tooth and nail to get an extensive Interns and New Grad programs up and running at my company. I needed to make sure I was setting them up for success, and some times that meant un-teaching some of things their parents taught them.

        2. datamuse*

          OMG so much this. (Gen-Xer academic here.) Most of the students I work with are pretty self-reliant but I hear a LOT of “kids these days” kinds of comments from people who are a) the right age to be the parents of the people they’re complaining about and b) increasingly unclear about what exactly constitutes a kid.

          1. iglwif*

            YES, I have had that experience too.

            If you’ve just been telling me that your late-teenage kids aren’t allowed to ride the subway on their own at night or that you edit all their essays for school, your next words had better not be a “kids these days” about my junior staff.

      4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        There comes a point in your life when you need to stand on your own two feet and tell your helicopter parent to back off and let you live your life. There are some extreme cases and exceptions, but for the most part the younger people are not completely blameless.

        1. LaDeeDa*

          But if they don’t know any different, they don’t know it isn’t normal. It is just like any kind of dysfunction in a family- it is your norm until you get out and learn that it isn’t the norm and can be detrimental. I think as leaders we have a responsibility to change and adapt to the different needs of different generations. The Boomer motto of “Because I said so.” no longer works and isn’t meeting the needs of Millenials and Gen Zs. So who adapts? The entire generation of future leaders, or the leaders who are on their way out?

        2. PersephoneUnderground*

          Yeah, but it’s insidious- if you’re raised by this kind of parent, you think it’s normal. It takes a lot of outside exposure to learn otherwise, and even then you might not realize things that are obvious to others that you didn’t catch.

        3. writelhd*

          I think it’s also part of the toxic nature of the relationship that helicopter parents don’t take well to being stood up to ,and will likely dig in deeper and refuse to get it when challenged…witness some of the people in this thread who shared helicopter parent stories of their own parents. Sometimes it takes a LOT of standing up to them, and then blocking them off your social media and moving, to actually get away from it. I would bet lot of the people who have experienced this will probably eventually do those things. But, standing up to your own family is neither easy, nor, with the particular cluelessnes that allows helicopter parents to be as they are, a finite event, plus they have a high change of engaging in massive guit trips, angry gaslighting, or other emotional manipulation when their kids try.

          Honestly we think helicopter parenting is amusing, but reading this thread actually just made me really sad. It’s one of the many ways a family can emotionally abuse you.

        4. iglwif*

          That’s true … but the first step in getting to that point in your life is to discover that your entire prior life experience has been dysfunctional. When your parents manage and control your life to the extent we’re talking about here, that discovery isn’t so easy to make!

      5. Doctor Schmoctor*

        I saw a Youtube video where some dude complained about the kids of today who don’t know how to do anything. And he used his own kids as examples. I just thought “Dude, who raised your children?”

        And then he gave specific examples of things that these darn kids don’t know. Uhh.. things like identifying trees, or building a shelter in the woods. Because that’s something everybody needs to know.

        1. iglwif*

          Geez.

          You want your kids to know those things, maybe you should, idk, teach them?

    2. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think it’s necessarily new (if that’s what you meant by being about young people)
      The first instance I came across was when I was newly qualified, which is over 20 years ago mow!

      Over that period of time, I can think of 3 cases of helicopter parenting where I was the emplyer/potential employer, plus acouple more where I worked with the helicopter parent and saw them in action, and 2 where there was a simair attitude but it was a spouse rather than a parent getting inappropriately involved.

      So yes, probably a fiarly small proportion of the workforce as a whole, but still quite a lot of individual instances!

    3. 4583SA*

      it’s very common in higher ed. we see a lot of students nowadays that have difficulty making decisions and have to consult often with their parents.

      1. LaDeeDa*

        That type of parent never allowed their kids to make a decision. They scheduled every single minute of their life from the second they were born, and made the “right” decisions for them. They never got the opportunity to make a decision.

  31. La Framboise*

    Not work per se, but. About 20 years ago, when I was a newbie public librarian, I had an adult married couple come in and tell me that their son was having trouble finding research for his paper. Thought the student might be in high school, but no! He was in graduate school. Yeah, good luck on your dissertation, guy. Especially since many public libraries are not set up for graduate- level research.

    1. Armchair Expert*

      I wonder if this is a scenario where the adult graduate son responded to his parents’ queries about how the thesis is going with a well meaning “It’s really challenging! I’m citing Important Research, but I’m having trouble finding the original study that Important Research references, and I’m a bit stuck, I’m sure I’ll get there though” sort of reply, and these very helpful parents then deciding, off their own bat, to help him out.

  32. Mimi Me*

    I used to work as an assistant manager for a retail store. One day this girl in her early 20’s came in with her father and filled out an application. He stood by and basically told her how to fill it out, what to write, even gave her her phone #. (This was in the early 90’s when people still had their home phone numbers memorized so definitely strange.) My manager decided to interview her. Her dad came to the interview with her. He stood outside the store, watching the office door and waiting for her. My manager then decided to hire her (!?!?). She lasted two weeks. Her father was a mail carrier so couldn’t come to work with her, but he would meet her outside the store after her shift and walk home with her. She ended up quitting when another part timer commented on the fact that she was unusually close to her parents and that she seemed to really need their input and supervision on a lot of things. (FYI: because she quit on the spot, citing this conversation, we did investigate and multiple witnesses said that the conversation began because the girl brought up her parents as she usually did and the part timer just made an observation with no accusatory or mocking tone. Just along the lines of “Hmmm, that’s weird”.) We never saw her again. I wonder about her from time to time.

    1. Sophie Hatter*

      This is actually really worrisome. They sound super controlling. I hope that girl is okay.

  33. What's with Today, today?*

    I posted this in an open thread once. My husband is a defense attorney and obviously knows all the scuttlebutt in the DA’s office, and is friends with all of them (small county, everyone is friends despite being on opposite sides).

    Last year, the DA was going through a rough primary. He had a fantastic long-time felony prosecutor who is no-nonsense, aggressive, and to the point, she’s a killer attorney. Just, a good one, but she can be abrasive. She wants things done right and had the authority to make it happen. The DA had hired a fresh out of school prosecutor about a year earlier and this New Prosecutor was the complete opposite of experienced attorney. They did not get along, and in the process of mentoring the New prosecutor, Experienced prosecutor’s no-nonsense style made the new prosecutor cry. The DA told them not to speak to each other any longer. Um, okay. Well, THAT directive became such a joke within the courthouse that New Prosecutor’s Dad, a Provost at the local university, called the DA in for a meeting at the University campus! After the meeting, the DA reprimanded the experienced attorney. She quit on the spot. DA looked like an idiot for running off on of his best. He then lost the election, and the newly elected DA fired New Prosecutor essentially because he wasn’t gonna deal with her Daddy.

    1. What's with Today, today?*

      I should clarify: When DA reprimanded the Experienced Prosecutor, he made the comment that he needed votes from the university faculty to win his re-election, and couldn’t piss off New Prosecutor’s dad.

      1. CatCat*

        Woowwwwee!! The ending to this is pretty glorious though: booted out of office!

        I want to know what happened the the experienced attorney. Good for her for quitting on the spot over that BS!

        1. What's with Today, today?*

          She is a still a fabulous prosecutor but in a larger county. She handles mostly felony sex crimes. Added glory, after the New Prosecutor was fired, she actually applied to that county not knowing it’s where Experienced Attorney ended up. Needless to say, she didn’t land an interview.

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        She 100% knew her dad did! She was in the meeting! I should have included that.

        1. Tigger*

          Ok that changes things! It first I thought she had just mentioned the joke to her parents in passing and her dad went rouge!

    2. Granger Chase*

      This story is almost as glorious as Rex Manning Day ;p
      In all seriousness, I am glad the Experienced Prosecutor has moved onto a job where I am sure she is better appreciated!

    3. Anne (with an “e”)*

      I adore every single thing about this story. Ah, the karma is exquisite.

  34. Joi Weaver*

    Mwahahahaha, my time has come! My former boss was a helicopter EVERYTHING. She had to call her husband to see when he wanted a doctor’s appointment to be, call the doctor to set up the appointment for him, call him again to find out what the doctor said, ALL WHILE SHE WAS AT WORK.

    Her husband was an actor, but almost always unemployed because he refused to take any roles that “went against his faith.” He refused to ever play the bad guy. You do you, man, but don’t expect Hollywood to come calling. So this one day, we’re at working, rushing to finish up an ad. We’re waiting on her final approval. What is she doing? Making a personal call! But not just ANY personal call. No, somehow, she is on the phone with the mother of a well-known Christian actor (of a similar mindset to her husband), telling her about how her husband is “a mighty man of God” and maybe this woman’s son could meet him and use his influence to get him some acting jobs. Oh, and my boss never bothered to go outside to make a personal call, so we ALL heard this. For 30 minutes. While we’re all waiting on her to do her job.

    But she wasn’t only. Helicopter for her family. Oh no. She had hired multiple interns, refused to train them properly, and had them hanging around the office. She wouldn’t let anybody else train them or have them help with tasks. One time, my coworker asked one of them if she wanted to babysit for her outside of work, and my boss flew into a tantrum! “These are MY INTERNS! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO THEM.” One of the interns was this 20 year old kid who was still living with his own parents. One day, he came in with a haircut that my boss didn’t like, so she sat him down and recut his hair herself. In the office. On the clock.

    I loved so much about my time at that company but I don’t miss her at ALL.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        “Hi AAM, so I’m an intern, and my boss one day decided that she didn’t like my haircut. She sat me down and made me let her cut my hair how she likes it. When I quit, do I have to put this internship on my resume?”

    1. ShwaMan*

      Oh man boss-turned-intern-hairstylist might be my very favourite AAM character of all time.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        And did the husband ever get to meet with Kirk Cameron? Because that’s the only actor I can think of in this scenario…

    2. Luna*

      Haven’t seen this crazy myself, but my mom told me she had a majorly controlling coworker. Said coworker actually called the hairdresser her boyfriend was gonna go to, to ensure that they wouldn’t cut his hair TOO short.

  35. Wing Leader*

    It happened to me and started when I was very young. My mom and stepfather did my homework and school projects for me. That continued all throughout my school years. When I started working, they of course did not change their ways. When I started my first job (in a restaurant) my mom had flowers sent to me there to “let everyone know how proud she was of her baby.” That’s probably not the worst thing ever, but it was embarrassing and I got some strange looks from coworkers. On another occasion, my boss called me on my day off to ask me if I could possibly come into work., but stepfather answered and had a conversation about it with my boss without me ever knowing.

    The worst thing was I later started working in a hospital (just a support type role, not a nurse or anything). My mom was having a mild but regular medical treatment done at the time and at the same hospital. So, she would come in for her treatment for about an hour or so. Then, she would decide “since she was already here” that she could just come spend the day with me. So she’d get herself something to eat and sit off to the side of where I was working all day. And she would occasionally check in with me and ask how I was doing or if I needed anything.

    Ugh, I could go on a book-long rant about my mom.

    1. Beth*

      I am so, so sorry you’ve had to deal with this. I hope you’ve moved several hundred miles away and reclaimed your life, because this sounds like an endless nightmare.

      1. Wing Leader*

        Yeah, it sucked a lot. I still live in the same state, but a different city and I don’t see or talk to my mom very often. She doesn’t understand why. Whenever I’ve tried to explain, she’s insisted that she was a fantastic mother and “that’s what mothers do.”

  36. Eeyore's missing tail*

    Another university employee. I work at my institution’s graduate school, which means that most of our students are at least early 20s. I work with one of our tuition waivers and every year, I get at least one parent calling to discuss it and why their child deserves the waiver. One of the parents that has always stood out to me was the one that told me that he was private contractor working of one of the schools in our institution. He was working with that school’s recruiting, and since he was helping them out so much, surely I could help him out and just give his daughter the waiver. He was lucky I didn’t get his name before he quickly hung up after I asked if he was trying to use his position to influence me.

    And his daughter did end up getting the waiver on her own merit. Dad just didn’t like the timeline and how daughter was having to wait, I guess.

  37. FKESPE*

    Oh man, so many, but a personal example happened with an old friend, who, at the time was 29 years old, got fired from a job (it was a medical office and she was messing up the medical procedure), and her parents went down during office hours and yelled at owners for firing their poor, sweet daughter.

    She was very proud of this when she told me the story…

    1. Cinderella*

      Helicopter Parenting Gone Bad: Several years ago my stepmother out-and-out lied to my roommate about a medical emergency I’d had the year before she and I met my roommate. According to Stepmother, I was “never the same” and was brain damaged after I’d been put on life support for three months. Not true. I was hospitalized for a week. Yes, I was seriously ill. I would have died if I hadn’t gone to the ER and into the hospital. However, I was never in a coma. I am not brain damaged. Stepmother claimed she never left my bedside — but she was actually thousands of miles away at her winter home and never came back to our home state during my illness. Needless to say, I have not spoken to Stepmother in some time.

  38. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    I had a parent try to come to an employee’s performance review. The employee asked my permission, I said no, of course, and explained why that was not possible and a really weird question. Then the parent called and demanded to be allowed to attend so they could ensure I was being fair to their child. It was truly bizarre.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        That is a mystery I have always wanted to solve but never have. This was a person with a Master’s degree, in their late 20s/early 30s, and it was their 2nd job out of grad school. When I mentioned the call by the parent to the employee, the response was, “Well, can they come or not?” O_o This was an employee I inherited and I learned over time that the parental involvement was a feature, not a bug, and the employee encouraged it. I ended up firing them because they told their parent come information about a case and leaked PII.

  39. Ellllle*

    I saw a few funny things working as an admin for a nursing college at a small university. My favorite was when I spent about 15 minutes on the phone with a prospective student answers questions like “What classes would I take the first year” “What is the dorm situation like” “What kind of career support would you provide me”. As we were going back and forth I noticed she was hesitant when answering questions about herself. Finally the girl caved and said “Actually I’m [Girl]’s Mom! I just wanted to know a little bit more about the school before she could apply!”

    I would have been able to provide that information to literally anyone, why would she pretend to be her daughter?What would have been really bad is if she had pretended to be her daughter if her daughter was actually enrolled. Hello FERPA?!

    1. Keyboard Cowboy*

      When I worked at a university helpdesk this happened! One day I took a call from a woman who asked if I could look up something for her son, and I said no, and mentioned that I would be breaking federal law if I gave her that information. The next day, I took a call from a woman whose voice I recognized, who gave me a male name as her own…. in fact, the same name as the guy whose mom I rejected yesterday.

      But per management we were not to try to make gender assumptions, and if someone could answer the identity validation questions, we were to assume it was that person on the line. Sigh.

      1. Tasha*

        Ok I was this mom once. My daughter had funds in a bank account as a result of a car accident, that were restricted to her until she reached the majority age. When she was 19 she absolutely needed the money for college, and the bank was totally giving her the run around about how to get her money. I called them posing as her and TOLD them what they would be doing (she was in another state with none of their branches, and could not present herself in person). They were suspicious that I was actually 19 but like you said, I could answer the security questions and they did release the money. No regrets, I’d do it again.

  40. smoke tree*

    When I was a teenager, I worked in a crappy motel, cleaning rooms. My coworkers were all great, except for one girl about my age who did a terrible job, didn’t help anyone else with their rooms (major faux pas) and generally sulked her way through the whole week of her tenure there. On her last day, her mother came to pick her up and told us all off for the horrors her daughter had been subjected to. Apparently she had been made to take the job as punishment, but it was too terrible to contemplate having such a degrading job for more than a week. As was expressed to those of us who still worked there.

  41. Rebecca*

    I was a retail manager at a grocery store and an employee, who was a local college student but allowed to only work during breaks, didn’t show up for his scheduled shifts over Thanksgiving. I called him and left a message. I received a call back from his DAD, who explained that his son was a “really good kid” and “had classes” – over Thanksgiving break?! and that I should really cut him some slack. I let him know that his son needed to contact me regarding his continued employment – we required seasonal employees to sign a ‘contract’ of sorts, understanding that they would come home for breaks.

  42. Bagpuss*

    I got a letter from a woman who was writing to apply for a job for her son. As in, she specifcally set out in the letter that her son is looking for work, gave all his qualifications etc and that he wanted to work for us.

    I have no idea whether the son knew.
    This was asking for postions as a junior lawyer. We didn’t have any openings, but if we had, the basic requirements would have been degree + postgrad vocational qualification, so we are talking someone who would need to be at least 22 and to have a minumum of 4 years of degree level study. Plus, it is very competative, so most people applying would also have relevant experience via intenrships / work shadowing, university law clinics etc.

    She had also done her research very badly. According to her, her son was particualrly interested in 2 secific areas of law, one of which we don’t cover , and she sent her letter to me, desite the fact that we have clear details on our website of the name and address to send any applications including if you are asking us to kep you in mind if a position becomes available.

    The thing which found particualrly odd was that this woman was a GP (Doctor) so you would expect her to have some understanding of professional norms and issues around confidentiality.

    1. jf*

      “…would expect her to have some understanding…”

      I’ve seen this a lot and I’ve started to wonder if people who are so used to following such norms for so long develop a resentment that allows them to find excuses for why such norms needn’t matter for them in what they imagine are their own special circumstances.

    2. Oska*

      My Mum “offered” to do this for me when I lived and worked abroad and was looking for a job to move back for. I told her that any place she went to to ask for a job for me, was one less place I’d be willing to work at, and one less chance for me to move back. (Even if someone was willing to interview and hire me on that basis, I’d be “the one with the weird Mum” forever!)

      She asked me why, apparently completely confused about my response. I asked her if she’d hire someone whose Mum came and asked about a job for them. (She was involved in hiring processes at her own job sometimes.) She insisted it was different, but couldn’t explain why. I had to threaten to stay abroad permanently to get her to promise not to do it.

  43. Not Miss Frizzle*

    I am a very seasoned teacher who gets a lot of student teachers. The worst of the worst had helicopter parents who at one point called me to discuss the evaluation I had given her which wasn’t stellar, but typical of a new teacher. It wasn’t that she was awful, it was that she needed some guidance to grow and to learn classroom management. It takes time, and she had promise, but since I didn’t write that she was the best thing since sliced bread on her evaluation, her father was angry. Now, in my 25 years, I have only had one student teacher that I gave a 100 to on their practicum, and that young lady was truly amazing and has won teacher of the year at least three times since.

    When I told the father that I could not discuss his adult child’s progress, he showed up at the school, managed to gain access through a side door some kid left propped open, came into my class, and confronted me in front of students. He slapped my hand when I went to press the emergency button, too.

    Fortunately, one kid ran out of the room and got security. We had to have the school police officer arrest him because he was refusing to leave and I wanted to press battery charges for him slapping my hand. Then, he began a harassing campaign on social media telling people to “call that principal and get that teacher fired.”

    Fortunately my reputation is one that is unmarred, but this idiot and his probably would make a decent teacher with some guidance daughter kept me from taking a student teacher for three years.

    1. fposte*

      Whoa. I’m glad the school police came. I’m a little worried about what would happen if his daughter had trouble with a student.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Holy crap! I’m glad that kid went and got help.

      Was the student teacher done with her time with you at that point or did you have to keep working with her after that?

      1. Not Miss Frizzle*

        I allowed her to finish, but it was tense for those two weeks. I don’t know if she ever actually became a teacher.

    3. Aunt Piddy*

      Holy moly that is TERRIFYING. Thank goodness the student was quick witted enough to go get help.

  44. goducks*

    I was once filling a receptionist position. I had two candidates in the same round show up for interviews with their moms in tow. It was a very small office, and the interview was performed at the conference table at one end of an open area. In both instances the moms followed their daughters to the interview table (uninvited) and sat down instead of staying in the chairs near the entry door (the sort of lobby area). I had to redirect both of the mothers to the front, which was still an awkward place for them to wait, but was far better than sitting at the table!

  45. Anon for Now*

    When I was in my 20’s, my mother would always stop by my work place for a “tour” and to introduce herself to my boss (the introduction generally turned into her grilling them).

    It was humiliating. However, I also worked in places open to the public (think hospitals, etc.), and so I couldn’t get her barred from the building. Part of the reason I have the career that I do now is because I specifically started seeking jobs in buildings that weren’t open to the public. She hasn’t stepped foot in a building I work in over a decade, and she hasn’t met one person I work with. Looking back now I can’t wrap my head around why the hell I even told her where I worked.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      We had an employee at my last work who would go through periods of no contact with her parents. During these periods, they would circle the block we worked on looking for her car at random hours of the day and night, and if they saw it, they’d come in and start screaming at her while she worked.

      They almost got permanently banned from the premises (she didn’t allow it, fearing she’d be punished if they got arrested.)

  46. DivineMissL*

    Last year, my teenage son got a summer job with my employer. While I was the one who told him about the job, and the hiring manager and HR folks knew him since he was in kindergarten, he did get the job on his own merits and I pointedly stayed out of it completely. During the summer, he would tell me random stuff happening during his work days. I really struggled with feeling like I had a responsibility to tell my employer about some of it (nothing dangerous or illegal, just stuff going on that the employer would want to know about), versus me staying out of my son’s business (if I didn’t work there, I wouldn’t call to tell them what my kid was telling me). Instead, I tried to suggest to my son that he might want to mention it to his boss, or gently suggested ways he could handle things differently, etc. He did a good job and got hired again this summer, and I’m still staying out of it!

  47. Essess*

    I had a helicopter wife as a neighbor. Her husband had a decent-paying job government job but she would decide she saw a job that SHE liked better for him and she would write up a resume and fill out the online applications and he would get calls for interviews for jobs that he had no idea that she had applied for him. He was perfectly happy working where he was.

    1. Wing Leader*

      Okay, I’ll admit that I’m kinda like this lol. I’ve applied for jobs for my husband before (he hates his though and it looking for a new one). And I’ve done other things like, when he said he wanted to lose some weight and get in better shape, I researched and put together a nutrition and exercise plan for him, which I presented to him. When he was looking into learning how to code and working with computers, I researched exactly how he could learn what he needed to know and put together a notebook full of materials and resources that he could use and follow. Things like that.

      I’m not trying to be controlling, it’s just the way my brain works. I’m very analytical, and my brain thinks “Okay, here’s a problem. What’s the first step to solving it? What’s the next step after that? What’s the full on game plan? What’s the backup plan?” And so forth.

      A few months ago, though, my husband finally blew up on me (not in that he was raging mad, just that he got frustrated which is “blowing up” for him) and said he didn’t like it when I made all these plans and decisions without including him. So, I don’t do those things anymore and let him manage his own stuff, or if I do come across a solution or an idea that I think will help him, I talk to him about it first.

      1. Armchair Expert*

        I mean this super kindly, but do you think this is you role modelling what your own parents did?

  48. Antilles*

    I’m in a construction-adjacent industry and we interact with construction workers all the time. We often have co-ops or interns visit job sites to deliver documents, pick up samples, fill out paperwork, chat with construction workers, and similar stuff.
    The standard for language on construction sites is often very colorful. I’m sure that surprises exactly nobody…except the parent of a co-op we had once, who called me at 8:00 AM sharp on her son’s third day at work. She couldn’t believe that I “exposed her son to such vile language” the previous day at the job site and demanded that I fix the situation. I tried to soothe her by saying that I understood her concern, but that poor language is unfortunately common in our industry but I would look into it. She responded with a five-minute rant which basically consisted of her insisting that I wasn’t doing my job by allowing him to ever hear “such filth”, that her son was too young to hear that word, and that the company, my manager and *especially* me were failing to take proper care of her son by letting it go on. When she finished, I asked her what exactly her son had heard that was so offensive.
    The kicker? It wasn’t someone spewing f-bombs or cursing at him or anything else I was imagining. Instead, she was offended that one of the construction guys referred to the biggest piece of equipment on site as a “Big Dick Excavator”.
    I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. She of course was even more angry and demanded I bring in my manager. I grabbed him and put the call on speaker. She got exactly three sentences into her explanation before he interrupted her with a completely cold “yeah, that’s mother-effing construction for ya, doesn’t it effing suck?” and hung up on her.
    The intern left that day and never returned, presumably at the request of his mother.

    1. Landshark*

      I’m gonna start calling large excavators I see now “Big Dick Excavators.” Thank you for the laugh!

    2. Over 60 & Forever Young*

      I love this! I worked as an Admin in construction job site field office trailers for about 20 years, it was the best! We had similar nicknames for heavy equipment lol – but I really appreciate “Big Dick Excavator” – a lot!

  49. Mimi Me*

    Oh and this one is from my sister…and still cracks me up. My sister used to work at a college. The college has a lot of Jewish students. My sister worked in fundraising and got a letter from an angry mother who wanted a refund of the money she’d spent on her daughters education because the daughter (Jewish) met a man (non-Jewish) at school and was now engaged to be married. She wrote how she only sent her daughter to this school to meet a nice Jewish man and how the school screwed up her plans by admitting people of all faiths.

      1. SnappyLT*

        I cannot address the accuracy of the story.

        I can say that as an undergrad roughly four decades ago I attended a college that was founded in the late 1800s by immigrants from a particular European country. I briefly dated a young woman whose parents had both immigrated from that same country right after WWII. Her parents had indeed sent her to that college so she could meet young men of that particular heritage. She told me she wouldn’t dare tell her parents she went on a date with me because my ancestors were from different European countries than her parents.

      2. curly sue*

        I’m side-eyeing it a bit, but then again… in the late 1960s, my (Jewish) mother was told by my grandparents that girls didn’t go to university to get degrees, and she would be allowed to go to the local school for one year, to meet a nice young pre-med Jewish boy.

        My mother being who she is, she won herself a full-ride scholarship to a prestigious STEM program in a city a couple of hours away, and left on the bus in the middle of the night. My bubbe didn’t speak to her again until winter vacation (while my grandfather sent mom money on the sly.) That was much more about ingrained generational sexism on their parts than anything religious, however.

      3. PersephoneUnderground*

        I don’t know, it’s not that unheard of for people of religious groups to try to match their kids up with a “nice ____ girl/boy”. I could see my mother in law being very upset if she had sent my husband to a traditionally Catholic school and he came back married to (Protestant) me. She was most definitely NOT happy when we got engaged, but she didn’t have any third party to blame in our case (and this was 2014). If she had? Totally plausible story, especially if you put it a bit in the past where these sorts of attitudes we’re more common and openly acknowledged. Lots of things that absolutely happened in the not too distant past sound really far fetched to modern ears.

  50. LaDeeDa*

    I have had a number of encounters- between teaching at a community college every other semester, running an intern and new grad programs at my company, and representing my company at STEM and recruiting events!
    Here are a few that come to mind:
    1. A 23 yr old senior in college engineering intern was denied a week off and came into my office holding his cell phone and told me his mom wanted to talk to me.
    2. The student who would FaceTime her mom so her mom would know what she learned and could help her prioritize her homework, and help her study. I sort of shrugged that off until the young woman held her hand up and said her mom had a question.
    3. I was the guest speaker at a women in STEM event being held at a university, a woman came up to me saying how she really wanted me to meet her daughter, and how I would be a great mentor for her daughter, when I asked where her daughter was she said “Oh this isn’t over until after 10:00, and I make her go to bed at 9:00 on school nights.” I asked how old her daugher was— 20.

  51. SJLSUE*

    I was 26 years old and needed to fly across the country for a work event. This would be my first flight ever. My parents took me the airport, which was fine. Not fine was my mother overhearing an older man mention that he was flying to the same place as me, so she approached him and asked him to please watch out for me because this was my first flight. Again, I was 26, married and had a child!!! I was mortified.

    1. Stained Glass Cannon*

      My father did that to me when I first had to fly for work assignments. He went to the counter staff, to the security staff, to the staff at the departure lounge, pretty much anyone in a uniform who was nearby. Pointed me out, told them what flight I was on, when it was departing and when/where it would arrive, asked them to keep an eye on me…I wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere. After the second time he did this I put my foot down and refused to let him accompany me to the airport at all.

      1. Darcy*

        The first time I went abroad on my own (16) my mum forgot to ask me anything about where I was going until a work colleague asked her where I was off to and she realised she only knew the country and not even which city I was going to or the address of the friend I was staying with

  52. Emmab*

    I was once interviewing for an Admin Asst role, it was a junior role but in a fast paced office so we were looking for someone who could hit the ground running, and felt comfortable interacting with a range of staff.

    We had this brilliantly written application from a young woman who hadn’t had much work experience but had done a lot of volunteering in a charity office. Her cover letter was really thorough and had everything we wanted, so we called her for an interview.

    When I went to meet her in the lobby, her mum was with her. Ok, a little weird as she was in her early 20s, but maybe they’d had lunch together or something before the interview. Her mum was very enthusiastic and bubbly, made a big scene of introducing her fantastic daughter and how excited she was to be here. The daughter barely spoke, but I assumed she was just a bit shy and maybe a bit embarrassed.

    I was half expecting her mum to follow us to the interview room, fortunately she didn’t. When the interview started, it became immediately clear that the candidate was very different in person to her application. She answered our questions with one or two word answers, avoided eye contact, fidgeted. Sometimes after her answer she’d say ‘is that what you wanted?’. None of the confidence or articulate persona I had seen in her application. I wondered if maybe she was just nervous and tried to warm her up, but when we asked about examples in her cover letter she didn’t seem to know what we were even talking about. It became clear that she must’ve had a lot of ‘help’ with her application, if she had even written it at all, and I guessed who may have been the true author.

    After the interview wrapped I escorted her to the lobby and thanked her for coming etc. Her mum immediately ran up to us and asked how it went, was there anything else we needed to know, when would the daughter hear etc. I said we’d be in touch and went back to the office.

    10 minutes later I get a call from reception, the mum is back and needs to talk to me. I tell the Receptionist I have another meeting and can’t talk, so please let her know I can’t come meet her now.

    I later went down to talk to the Receptionist and apparently the mum kept telling her that her daughter was unwell and not feeling great at the interview, it wasn’t fair, could they reschedule etc.

    Just insane, I can’t imagine how anyone could think that was helpful to their child.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Oh that poor girl! No wonder she was quiet and fidgeting. She may have had nothing to do with the application at all until her mother dragged her to the interview. Plus, she was obviously so conditioned to pleasing people that the individuality was half snuffed out of her!

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Yep. “Is that what you wanted?” is just sad to hear, really. Poor girl.

        1. EmmaB*

          It was really difficult, I really felt for her, she was so quiet and visibly uncomfortable. I hope she managed to break away from her mother.

  53. TravelJunkie*

    I have two stories:
    1- At OldJob where I ran media relations I gave one of my fresh-out-of-college direct reports kind and constructive but direct feedback on the first draft of a press release he wrote. He was clearly upset when we discussed it, and I explained that even the best writers in the world get edited, etc. About 10 minutes later I receive a phone call. From his mother. “This is xx, Steve’s mother. Steve works very hard on his writing is very upset that all you ever do is criticize it.” I said, “xx, I don’t discuss work issues with outside parties. Have a good day.” And I hung up.

    2-At different OldJob One of my direct reports didn’t come in. She was already on a PIP. So I called her. “Oh, hey TravelJunkie, I don’t think I can come in today. It’s raining and I have a case of the Mondays.” So I said “Ok, well I’ll mark this as a vacation day then.” At which point she backpedaled and begrudgingly came in. She walked into my office, said “Here, my dad wants to talk to you” and had us on speakerphone. I looked at her, said absolutely not, and went back to what I was doing. She stood there a second and as she left I hear her dad say, Who’s her boss? I’m going to call her boss. Good luck with that. My boss would have shut that dad down immediately.

  54. Utoh!*

    While this may not be completely related this is the first year where large majority of our interns are NOT related to current employees. They actually selected interns based on their computer major and placed them in departments relative to what they may do after graduation (what a concept!). We’ve had some real winners in the past, the CIO and CEO’s son stand out as being completely useless and glued to their cell phones all day. I have no idea where they ended up, but you can bet their dads helped them get there.

  55. No Thanks*

    Not parenting, but for years I worked with a man whose wife also worked at the same company but in a completely different department. The wife requested a meeting with our supervisor, who assumed it was related to her role. Nope, she was there to order the supervisor to give her husband more of a raise (which she knew would be at the expense of others) and to give him fewer duties (he had only one duty). It was…something. She and the supervisor shared the same somewhat ineffectual manager, who at least informed her that it was inappropriate. She continued surprising the supervisor in his office with the same “request” every year.

    The wife also made all his meals for him, picked out his clothing, filled out his work forms for him, and basically treated him like a second kid. Once a few years ago, he told me he didn’t know what school their kid went to.

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I used to work with a dude who’s wife would leave her job everyday, pickup takeout food for him and drive the fifteen minutes to where he worked to drop off the takeout food and then drove fifteen minutes back to her work to eat her lunch. We had a lunch break – he could have left to get his own takeout, but no, his wife got it for him every damn day. If for some reason she couldn’t make it he would go around to figure out if anyone else was going out for lunch that day to try to get them to pick something up for him.

        1. Armchair Expert*

          This sounds like it might be the husband’s expectation, though, not the wife volunteering? If he tries to get others to do it in her absence?

          1. OhBehave*

            Either he was so controlling he demanded this of her or she was the helicopter wife (he went from mom’s home to married life and knew nothing different).

            My husband would think I was nuts if I did this.

  56. Kara*

    I went to school with a boy whose mother would follow her kids to whatever school they went to. An aide at one school, get hired as a secretary at the next. When the kids were in high school they worked at the usual entry-level jobs. One day I was ordering at a popular chicken fast-food restaurant and recognized the younger brother of the boy who was in my class. He took my order, and as I was people-watching while waiting for my food to be prepared, guess who I saw working the drive-thru window? None other than mommy dearest… Smh.

    We’re all in our 30s now, and I do hope she’s stopped following her children around to their various jobs…

    I somehow doubt it.

    1. buttrue???*

      I know a woman who was banned from her daughter’s school and it carried from elementary through high school. She was not allowed there for any reason at all. In elementary school should would come at sit with her a lunch.

  57. IHaveanAnnoyingCoworker*

    I don’t know if this is helicopter parenting or WHAT, but I work at a large engineering company. We have a coworker who graduated at 18 from university (normal age to graduate is more like 22) and immediately started working with us. He has now been with us for TEN YEARS working full time as a software engineer. Het gets paid fairly well. And to this day, as far as I can tell, he still lives with his able bodied parents who drive him to work every single day. He could, by now, have definitely afforded to at least rent an apartment and/or maybe get a car, but nope! While he is a bit odd he does not have any disabilities that preclude him from independent living or being able to drive a car.

    1. Silver Fig*

      Last year my company hired a 16-year-old PE. She was homeschooled, went to college in her early teens, and got her engineering license before she got a driver’s license. Her mom drove her to work for almost a year before she was able to get her driver’s license.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I thought you had to have a couple of years of work experience before you could even sit the PE exam?

        (Passing the FE exam before 16, sure – it’s pretty common for college seniors to take that. But that’s only one step on the way to a license.)

    2. bcgg*

      The driving to work is definitely weird, but there might just be a cultural thing going on here! In lots of cultures it’s pretty normal to live with your parents until you get married, or even after.

      1. IHaveanAnnoyingCoworker*

        I mean, he’s just like… straight up Caucasian male from the same city/town/province I’m from.

      2. Liane*

        “but there might just be a cultural thing going on here!”
        If that were the local culture, IHaveanAnnoyingCoworker, would know & probably wouldn’t find any of it odd–because they are familiar with the local culture.

    3. CheeryO*

      Could he be saving for a house? I’m in my late 20s and know a handful of people who skipped right over renting and lived at home until they could afford a down payment on a house. Some people take the whole “renting is throwing money away” thing really seriously.

      1. IHaveanAnnoyingCoworker*

        If he is, he must be saving up to pay for the whole thing in cash, or his parents are charging him a lot of rent. I mean, he’s been working full time for 10 years, if he was living rent free that would be more than enough time to pay off any possible student loans he had (fairly low due to living with parents during his schooling) and save a good downpayment! Houses in our area aren’t that expensive.

        1. Pescadero*

          When my parents divorced – my dad, sister, and I moved in with my grandmother while my dad built a house.

          It took 11 years to build the house – because no loans at all were involved and he built the house entirely himself.

          It take a long time to build a house by yourself while working full time, with no loans, on a working class salary (while raising two kids).

    4. Anax*

      It’s also possible that this person has an invisible disability you don’t know about which precludes driving and makes independent living difficult. Say, the LW from a couple years ago who has seizures in her sleep.

      Given that this is a smart, socially-odd person who works in software engineering… I’m just gonna take a wild guess that he may have a neurodevelopmental condition going on. I can tell you from experience that those can cause some weird issues which make driving and independent living frustrating and difficult, which wouldn’t come up at work. It really helps my quality of life to have someone ELSE do the grocery shopping and load the dishwasher; certain tasks really stress me out. (I do other things that BF and GF don’t like, like laundry and paperwork.)

      So… eh, might be helicoptering, might be a reasonable accommodation which works for everyone, depending on where consent and boundaries lay. Heck, this person might be living with his folks because one of them has a physical disability and needs help, or be living in a mother-in-law’s suite and rarely see his folks except when they carpool.

      1. Errol*

        But on the other side, sometimes people are just dependent. My ex was also an engineer oddly enough and completely reliant on his mother because his mom liked feeling needed.
        He lived in his grandparents house rent free and his mother would come over and cook and clean the house 3 times a week. Perfectly neurotypical dude just a little socially awkward, but just never had to be independent so he just didn’t. He loved being coddled and his mother lived to coddle him. Just completely failed to launch because he never had to.

        Let me tell you, his mother never liked me because I made him (a grown *ss man in his 30’s by the way) learn to make his own dinner and how do more cleaning things then just sweeping the floor.

    5. Utoh!*

      Yeah, I can top that, three men in my department (in the range of 40-50 years old) still live with their parents, and one had his 8o+ father driving him to work every day for years (he had driven himself initially). The one who was being driven was fired for a breach of security, and lo and behold, he is now driving again because I’m sure his father got fed up, he was pretty ornery to begin with!

      1. Anne (with an “e”)*

        My neighbor’s dad drives him to work (neighbor is in his mid thirties) because his license was revoked for driving while impaired. Dad picks up neighbor every am and drops him off after 5:30 pm.

    6. Beth*

      I wouldn’t call it helicoptering unless one or both of the parents are inserting themselves into his work life in inappropriate ways. Or into his social/personal life, but that’s outside the scope of the discussion. As others have said, there could be any number of reasons for it.

    7. ADHsquirrelWhat?*

      There’s some odd things about driving, though –

      I have ADHD. Because of this (and because of a genetic disorder in my family that made me figure I’d be blind by the age of 30 so why bother – I’m in my 40s and not blind so yay!) I did not learn to drive until after my son was born and I NEEDED to be able to get around on my own. There’s no obvious disability here.

      But driving before and after ADHD medication is like two entirely different experiences. Driving without medication is overload city. Driving, doing a full day of work, and then driving AGAIN would be nightmare territory. Even if I loved my job, even if I felt it was hours of play and not work it would be overload territory! If there’s no mass transit (which can also be overwhelming, but often less so) then .. how else is he gonna manage if he’s got a brain like mine? Sometimes the issues aren’t very visible.

      1. Anax*

        I’m autistic, and driving after work is overload-city for me, too; I’m lucky enough to be able to carpool with my GF, but… goodness, that’s relatable.

    8. BottleBlonde*

      He may be able to afford moving out, but what if he doesn’t want to? Why spend the extra money if both you and your parents are happy? (Granted I’m from a culture where this is normal/expected :))

      The car thing is a bit stranger. I do know lots of adults who don’t drive and never have. I’d find that terribly inconvenient.

      1. Clay on my apron*

        I found it very difficult to learn to drive. I was 29 when I managed to get my license. It was limiting and embarrassing to rely on others for transport (I live in a city that has limited public transport). Probably a combination of ADHD, sensory integration issues and poor motor planning.

      2. Doris*

        I still don’t drive and know quite a lot of people who don’t. I failed the test a few times at 17 and then tried to learn again in my 20s and got pretty far, but was derailed by a relationship break-up. The worst thing is the stigma, really, I think, of people thinking you’re “strange” or not quite a proper adult.

        1. Doris*

          Having always lived in inner city areas with good public transport, though, the only reasons I’d bother to learn now would be 1) if I had a kid 2) if it was a work requirement 3) if I moved to somewhere very rural, or 4) if someone very close to me and very patient had a car and offered me lessons.

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Depends on where you live, really. I have had a license and a car since I was 17 but didn’t bother to get a car when I moved to the UK 15 years ago because I don’t need it (good public transportation where I live) and it isn’t worth the expense. If I ever get a more stable job that requires a car I’ll get one but right now there’s no point.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          I’ve kept my license up but I living in a city I have no interest in having a car (which is not dissimilar to my position on driving.) Though I do try to drive when I visit family…just keep my toe in the water.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            I actually love driving and do it whenever I get the chance when visiting family. My husband doesn’t drive but we recently took a vacation where I rented a car and drove all over France. It was fun. There’s just no way for me to justify paying the insurance on a car when I have the metro and bus station 5 minutes’ walk down the road!

  58. Essess*

    I was 25 years old, married, and living several hours away from my mother…. and during a blizzard one day she called my boss to find out if I’d worn a hat and scarf to work that morning.

  59. Magenta*

    I had forgotten about this, it isn’t a work one but it is a massive over-step.

    I was 21 and in my last term at university, my mum “accidentally” opened a bank statement and saw that I was over my overdraft.

    She went into the bank and somehow managed to bully the manager into telling her what I owed, letting her pay it off and close the account. Meaning I had no bank account and couldn’t be paid from my job, I had to scrabble around trying to open a new one.

    I was so mortified at her behaviour that I never went in to complain about the huge data breach on the part of the bank. To this day my mum still thinks she did me a favour.

    1. Turtlewings*

      My jaw is on the floor. That is absolutely appalling. Obviously your mother was massively out of line, but for the bank to let her do that just blows my MIND.

    2. Clodagh*

      When I was at Uni my Mum managed to convince someone at the bank to tell her what my account balance was (zero at the time due to a high level of drinking and drinking-adjacent events the previous week). She then put some money in my account so I wouldn’t go short. I was furious which absolutely baffled her and probably baffles her to this day, to be honest.

    3. embertine*

      It’s sadly not that unusual. When my parents split up in my early twenties, my father tried to continue to put money in my account as a way of staying in touch with me. Repeated requests to the bank not to accept payment failed. I had to go into the branch with a copy of data protection laws in my hand and threaten to “take my business elsewhere” to get them to comply.

    4. dotdotnotalot*

      A friend of my grandmother’s worked at the bank I used in high school. He called my mom and told her I was writing checks to Planned Parenthood (it was for my birth control). I so so so so so much wish I had gone down to the bank and filed a complaint and closed my account, but I took my cue from my mom, who did nothing, so I did nothing. Sigh.

  60. kc89*